Richness, Retrievability and Reliability–Issues in a Working Knowledge Base for Good Practice in Crime Prevention
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This paper focuses on descriptions of crime prevention projects identified as ‘good practice’, and how they are captured and shared in knowledge bases, with the purpose of improving performance in the field as a whole. This relates both to evidence-based approaches to practice, and to growing attempts at explicit knowledge management. There are, however, fundamental issues in the transfer of effective practice in the crime prevention field, which few working knowledge bases have properly addressed. Evaluation often remains weak and descriptions of successful projects do not always contain the right information to help practitioners select and replicate projects suitable for transfer to their own contexts. Knowledge remains fragmentary. With these concerns in mind this paper systematically examines the projects contained in the UK Home Office ‘Effective Practice Database’, a repository of project descriptions volunteered and self-completed on a standard online form by practitioners. The Home Office descriptions (and their equivalents elsewhere) reveal significant limitations of richness, retrievability and reliability. Ways of addressing these issues are discussed, ranging from the media and processes of ‘knowledge-harvesting’ to the use of more purpose-designed frameworks such as 5Is. But the fundamental issue remains one of taking knowledge management seriously and investing sustained time, money and leadership effort to make it work.
KeywordsBest practice Evaluation Good practice Home Office Knowledge management SARA 5Is
For helpful comments we are grateful to Jessica Anderson, Jason Roach and Aiden Sidebottom, plus an anonymous referee
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