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Researchers tackle public protection issues with police, health and social care professionals


Researchers in Scotland have highlighted the need for greater collaboration between agencies to enhance public protection and the safety of vulnerable adults and those at risk of harm.

From left to right: Malcolm Donald Assistant Chief Constable for Major Crime and Public Protection; Professor Nick Fyfe Director of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR); Alex Johnstone MSP; Dr Richard Gray, Chair of Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education (CAIPE); Dr Sundari Joseph, Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, RGU; Detective Chief Inspector Samantha McCluskey (lead for domestic abuse in Scotland); Professor Lesley Diack, Professor of Transdisciplinary and Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) RGU; Professor Susan Klein Director for the Centre of Trauma Research, RGU; Tim Heilbronn, Business & KT Manager Scottish Institute for Policing Research and Mrs Inga Heyman, lecturer in Mental Health Nursing, RGU.Inter-agency education and increased collaborative working across Scotland are key points in a new report by a team of Interprofessional Education experts from Aberdeen.

Led by Dr Sundari Joseph from Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) School of Nursing and Midwifery, the team shared their findings at the Scottish Parliament earlier this year as part of a public protection awareness event.

The study titled - ‘Interagency adult support and protection practice of police and social care professionals: a realistic evaluation approach’ – is also available online.

Dr Joseph, who was the Principal Investigator for the research project, said: “My interest in this topic area stems from a career in nursing and health visiting and over 20 years of experience in education and research in Aberdeen.

“I have been passionate about interprofessional and inter-agency working to ensure that people have the best possible outcomes.

“My quest for reducing harm and protecting vulnerable people were very real to me in my HV role and enhancing collaborative working practices amongst different professionals has always been something I have strived for.”

Colleagues who worked on the project with Dr Joseph included: Professor Lesley Diack from RGU’s School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences; Inga Heyman from RGU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery; Professor Susan Klein, Director of the Aberdeen Centre for Trauma Research; Dr Penny Woolnough from Abertay University; Detective Chief Inspector Samantha McCluskey from Police Scotland; research assistant Alison Reddish and research fellow Midj Falconer.

The team conducted focus groups with members of the police and health and social care professionals in each of the three Police Scotland Command areas.

Thirteen focus groups were conducted with 101 professionals participating. Nine key themes were identified: Information sharing; relationships; people and processes; lessons from child protection; environment; implementation of the act; regional variations and training; rights of the service users.

Dr Joseph said: “We are very grateful to Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) for having the vision to fund this project in 2013-2014 at a time when integrated working practices were supposedly well established but no one had evaluated this in a meaningful way and with research rigour.

“From our focus groups we identified the gaps in the provision of services for vulnerable adults and adults at risk of harm. We also looked at the working practices of people who were in the adult support and protection roles.

“A number of key performance indicators have now been identified for different levels of practice. Being educators we had a strong education and training focus throughout and made recommendations for inter-agency training at all levels of professional development including our undergraduates.”

Presenters at the Scottish Parliament event also included Alex Johnstone MSP; Nick Fyfe Director of Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) and Malcolm Graham Assistant Chief Constable for Major Crime and Public Protection, Police Scotland.

The event included exhibition stands to highlight an interactive learning tool developed by RGU and Police Scotland called COLT; Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education (CAIPE) a UK network for those involved in education and practice and WithScotland, an online resource centre for those working in public protection.

More information about the research project is available online

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Ross AndersonCommunications Officer | Health and Sport