Polstops Newsletter n2 (June 2021)

Published on 22/06/2021

The past year has been difficult for us all. Working on a COST Action, which supports networking in the form of travel, meetings and events has been particularly difficult. After some initial uncertainty, and once we realised the restrictions on travel were set to stay in place, we have made a good deal of progress. We might even remark that we have been able to do some things that would not have been possible before. In particular, in normal times, we would not have been able to fund the range of international speakers at our Training Schools and the wider participation in them from early career researchers. Our Working Groups have made good progress in their analysis, and they are all working on events and publications. Having said that, we are all looking forward to meeting again. We have plans for September, so please look out for further notices on this.



After more than one year of online activities, we are planning the first in-person meetings in the week of 13-17 September 2021:

  • a Management committee meeting,
  • a Core group meeting,
  • Working group meetings and
  • a Short-term scientific mission (STSM) on the interactive map.

The location and agenda will be communicated in due course. The call for the STSM will be announced soon on our website. We are very much looking forward to meeting again!



Pearson, G. and Rowe, M. (2020), Police Street Powers and Criminal Justice: regulation and discretion in a time of change, Oxford: Hart Publishing.
Pearson G and Rowe, M (2020), ‘We spent seven years observing English police stop and search – here’s what we found’, The Conversation November 16th Available here.
Hammer, Danel, Gundhus, Helene O. I. & Sveaass, Nora (2020). Den gode fangen: politiets utlendingskontroll i lys av skjønnsutøvelse og legitmitet. [The good prisoner: police immigration control in light of discretion and legitimacy]. Nordic Journal of Studies in Policing. 7(3): 264-285.
WG1 is editing a special issue of the Journal of Organisational Ethnography on police stops. Several papers are currently under review and will be published online later in the year.

WG1 has 13 blogs, three of them published 2020/21:

  • Reforming Stop and Search in Scotland By Kenny Ramsay
  • Ausweispflicht per Corona-Verordnung? Verordnungsgeber missachten rechtsstaatliche Grenzen By Jan Fährmann, Clemens Arzt, Hartmut Aden
  • We spent seven years observing English police stop and search – here’s what we found By Geoff Pearson, Mike Rowe

WG1 STSM on the practice of police stops, analysing our data (18-19 March 2021)
We tried to experiment with the format of the STSM in a virtual setting. Over two days, five members met for a STSM to discuss the research protocol which WG1 and WG3 have developed for Polstops. While the research protocol did collect a good deal of data from many EU countries, it is still not comprehensive enough from which to draw firm conclusions. The STSM decided that the best approach would be to work on key themes which emerged from the data and identify small groups of researchers and practitioners to study that theme in more detail in a small number of countries. We set tasks and convened online at agreed times to monitor and discuss progress. To begin, we took three countries we knew to be different: Spain, Finland and Ireland. In each case, we found the law appeared to be clear but leave plenty of room for ambiguity (as expressed in the responses). Practice then appears to vary also (e.g. the law is clear on disproportionality in Spain, but practice appears very different). The different legal traditions do not appear to be a factor here.
We then focused upon those questions that addressed matters of practice in order to compare them across all responses. At the conclusion of the STSM, we have identified a number of themes/issues to explore further:

  • What counts as suspicion (Q8)?
  • Conduct of searches and codes of ethics (Q15 & 16).
  • Use of devices for recording or other purposes (Q17).
  • Data recorded (Q59, 60 & 62) and giving a record to those searched (Q66).
  • How do officers inform someone they may refuse to be stopped (Greece, Austria and Hungary)?
  • Handling of complaints?
  • Targets (official v local practices) (Q81).
  • Training
  • Some specific countries (Austria appear secretive; Romania and Spain have independent investigators who seem to acknowledge there is a problem)

This exploration should not take the form of a further survey or requests for clarification. They might more usefully be the focus of a seminar/workshop engaging experts and practitioners? The intention is to identify four or five countries for each topic who may have a particular connection to it, either because there is activity happening in that country on that topic, or because it is completely lacking from that country’s planning or practice. This work will be the focus for WG1 for the next two years. WG1 held a meeting on 28 April 2021 to assign leads for each theme. We will meet again later in the summer to check on progress.


WG2 started to organise an online open one-day seminar on ‘Experiencing police stops’ with papers from researchers as well as practitioners in the field. The seminar is planned to be held in late autumn/winter 2021.They are also preparing a Special Issue for the journal Policing & Society. Currently, 6 papers have been submitted and are awaiting the reviews.


WG3 held several meetings to discuss the draft chapters of the edited book on a comparative approach to governance of police stops due in 2022. During the recent meeting in May, the chapter leaders presented their draft abstracts (e. g. typology, internal and external governance of police stops, legal remedies, civil society oversight etc.) and the WG members discussed them and other issues on the preparation of the book.


  • August 2020: 14 countries submitted a national analysis of the politicization of police stops on the basis of the research protocol of the working group (deliverable 4.1). These contributions were the basis for deliverable 4.3 ‘First overview analysis’.
  • Online symposium on the 13-14 October 2020: presentation and review of Deliverable 4.3 ‘First overview analysis’
  • May 2021: submission of book proposal ‘The Politicization of Police Stops. Public Issues and Police Reform’ (Palgrave), (Deliverable 4.4)
  • 1/2 July 2021: online symposium to discuss draft chapters of the book.
  • October 2021: submission of book chapters
  • December 2021: feedback review book chapters
  • February 2022: submission of final chapters
  • Tbc: podcast episode focused on the book


POLSTOPS 1st training school focused on ‘Legitimacy of police stops’ (27-29 October 2020). We tried to adjust the normal format to suit the online delivery model and so we had a range of speakers across the three days interspersed with discussions of the research of the participants. The format seemed to work well and it enabled us to hear from a good number of established academics and experts. We were delighted to hear from Prof Ben Bradford and Dr Justice Tankebe, each presenting on the idea of and theory of legitimacy and procedural justice. Dr Martin Glynn challenged participants to think differently about the experience of police stops and about their representation. Nick Glynn (no relation!) and Dr Liz Aston then each offered different perspectives on engaging with police forces and in reform. The work of students and early career researchers covered technology and its use in police stops, the practices of police officers and the experience of police stops. The quality of the work in evidence was excellent and connections have been made that will, we believe, enhance the development of each.

The 2nd training school focused on ‘Researching the experiences of police stops’ (10-12 May 2021). We were joined by a series of guest speakers from Europe and America who shared their experiences of conducting research in this field using a range of methodological approaches. On the first day we were joined by Dr Elsa Saarikkomaki who shared her experiences of researching the experiences of ethnic minority groups in Nordic countries and we heard a very unique and interesting perspective from Prof Josephine Ross on her feminist critique of stop and search. We then heard from Dr Mads Madsen on his ethnographic research in Denmark, followed by Rossalina Latcheva from the Fundamental Rights Agency who conducted surveys across the whole of Europe. On the final day of the training school, we were joined by Marco Perolini from Amnesty International who discussed contemporary issues of policing during the pandemic, and we also heard from Dr Kivanc Atak who provided an interesting insight into stops in a country where very little data is collected and the challenges this poses for researchers.

Throughout both training schools our Doctoral Students and Early Career Researchers were able to share their experiences and challenges of conducting their own research projects and some shared their drafts with the group for some peer-to-peer feedback. The training schools were a great success with many participants arranging to participate in follow-up reading groups and presentation sessions. We look forward to the next training school which we anticipate will be early next year.

Sharda Murria, Lecturer in Criminology and Policing at Birmingham City University, is Polstops’ new TS manager.


Workshop ‘Improving the governance and practice of police stops’ (24 November 2020)
Working groups 1 and 3 organised the online workshop ‘Improving the governance and practice of police stops’ that brought together a variety of resources which capture experiences of bringing about change. The workshop was attended by more than 60 participants: academic, practitioners and civil society. The discussions were informed by a series of materials and short video interviews which can be consulted here.

Interlabo ‘Police, public and diversity: complicated relations’ (30 April 2021)
Polstops partners – the CRiS research group of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the OD Criminology of the National Institute of Criminalistics and Criminology – organised the Interlabo on ‘Police, public and diversity: complicated relations’ focused recent qualitative studies conducted by the organising research centers that offer insights on how the local Belgian police deals with the public in all its diversity. For more information, click here.

Policing During a Pandemic: for the public health or against the usual suspects? (5-7 May 2021)
The POLSTOPS work on policing of the pandemic was reported to the CEPOL conference held on 5-7 May 2021. We presented a discussion of the evidence we reported in our White Paper. Specifically, it sought to start a discussion about the ways in which policing during the pandemic has revealed underlying issues related to Police Stops. Evidence suggests that policing in the pandemic was focused on the same populations as during ‘normal’ times. The policing of public health measures tended to focus on poorer urban communities and upon particular parts of cities and particular communities. At the same time, policing has become more visible, not least because of the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests across the world. Police Stops is now on the agenda in more countries than before and our network is well placed to help make changes.


On 28 April 2021, to respond to the unmet needs of the running COST Actions, the COST Association launched the Virtual networking tools (VNT), aimed at building capacity and spreading the uptake of virtual collaboration. This is a pilot that will run until the end of the current Grant Period and the end of Horizon 2020 – 31 October 2021. The pilot includes two new types of grants – Virtual networking support grant and Virtual mobility grants. In the coming week, we will invite the MC members to cast their e-vote via e-cost on launching the VNT call for Polstops.


Website updates
We are carrying out a series of updates on our website to better reflect our current activity and to improve the accessibility and user-friendliness of the website.

New Polstops podcast
We are currently developing a new podcast on police stop and search in the framework of our Action that will feature our members who will share their experience from their respective countries and will highlight the research they are conducting in the area of stop search. We are still looking for a name – if you have a suggestion, please get in touch with us.
The podcast will be launched in September 2020 with a first season of 6 episodes. If you would like to get involved, please email us at polstops@vub.be

The Policed Podcast with Sharda Murria

Read previous

Call for participation: STSM Interactive map

Read next

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.