Alex Murray 

  • Inducted June 2014
  • Nominated by Lawrence Sherman, Cambridge University and the University of Maryland

Biography:

Chief Superintendent Murray graduated from Birmingham University in 1996 and joined West Midlands Police, where he worked in investigative and uniform roles in the cities Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton. As a uniformed officer and supervisor he developed violent crime initiatives and community advocacy groups in local neighborhoods, as well as has worked on major drug initiatives. As a senior investigating officer he has led complex cases and set up performance regimes that linked protective services (murder investigation) to neighborhood policing. He has extensive experience within Counter Terrorism and in 2008 graduated from Cambridge University with a Masters degree in Criminology, writing a thesis focused on understanding of police legitimacy within minority communities.  Murray is currently the Commander of Birmingham East Local Policing Unit. He has also been associate director of the Cambridge Indian Police Service Training Programme and part of the UK National Disaster Victim Identification Team. He is the founder and chair of the Society of Evidence-Based Policing in the United Kingdom (sebp.police.uk) which aims to facilitate officers and staff using, communicating and producing the best possible evidence in policing.

 

Evidence-Based Research and Practice:

Chief Superintendent Murray’s efforts in instituting evidence-based practices in Birmingham and England have been exemplary. In partnership with Cambridge University, he has led a randomized control trial that created specialist teams for managing incidents of repeat victimization from anti-social behavior. He has also been involved in an experiment related to offender management diversion scheme, both in Birmingham and Coventry. He has led a test of the effectiveness of target hardening in premises predicted to be of high risk from burglary through the phenomenon of ‘near  repeats’, partnering with University College London. Murray has also been involved in quasi-experimental tests to improve community confidence in policing and has commissioned a low-level randomized controlled trial testing the effect of victim call backs on satisfaction rates for vehicle crime. He has researched the relationship between Muslim Communities, Confidence in the Police and Vulnerability to Violent Extremism. Currently he is examining the opportunities of testing behavioural insights within the custody environment to reduce re-offending. He is also looking at how social responsibility within large corporations can encourage reductions in offending through partnerships with the police and third sector agencies through apprenticeships.

Murray also developed the concept of “research fairs” where police employees are able to meet and be matched to academics for research projects. At these fairs, the police exchange data and access for academic research expertise – a natural symbiosis where the net benefactor is the community.

What makes all of these efforts extraordinary is not only his consistency in his commitment to doing research, but the reason for his efforts: to improve practices within his deployment area. Professor Sherman describes Murray as a “tireless advocate of evidence-based policing.” Murray has briefed the Home Secretary of the UK, the Association of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales, the Scottish Institute of Police Research, leadership courses at the Police College at Bramshill, the Indian National Police Academy in Hyderbad, and numerous scholars, practitioners, and policy makers at the annual Cambridge International Conferences on Evidence-Based Policing.

 

Publications:

  • Evidence-Based Policing and Integrity’ Translational Criminology Fall 2013‘
  • Following the Evidence.  The challenge of evidence based policing.’ in Policing UK 2013.  Priorities and Pressures.  A Year of Transformation.
  • Evidence for the front line.  A report for the alliance for useful evidence (Sharples J, 2013).  A preface. P 5
  • ‘Lifeboats and Prostitutes’ Police Professional September 2012
  • ‘Evidence Based Policing is Going Mainstream’ Police Professional January 2012
  • ‘Gathering Evidence’ Police Professional March 2011
  • ‘Grounded Force’ Police Review June 2011
  • Book Reviews ‘Just Authority?  Trust in the Police in England and Wales’ Policing Vol 7 No 2 2013

 

Statement from Chief Superintendent Murray:

For me the heart of evidence based policing is about integrity.  Let’s take for granted that we want to assist in transforming communities through reducing crime.  The question is ‘how?’  Evidence based policing is about understanding the real effect you are having as a police leader.   Rather than claiming reductions on crime are down to great leadership (unless of course rates go up, in which case we blame everything from the weather to the economy – but certainly not poor leadership) we should have evidence at the heart of what we do.  Strong evaluations and a culture of rigorous ‘testing’ should become the norm.  Policing, like medicine, has a profound effect on people’s lives and is very expensive.  For those reasons we cannot afford to rely solely on experience and intuition, valuable though they are.  The craft of policing must be coupled with scientific method, for me that is the journey we need to embark upon to make policing a true profession.

 

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