UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science


Undercover controversies in UK policing

10 December 2019, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Crime policy research image

The UCL Jill Dando Institute for Global City Policing and Canterbury Centre for Policing Research at Canterbury Christ Church University are pleased to announce the start of a joint seminar series. This exciting series will explore what current scientific research and evidence have to say about policing in the UK.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Paul McFarlane


Room 104 Elvin Hall
Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way
United Kingdom

In the UK, many policing activities are considered to be controversial. For example, there has been much recent public discourse about current policies and the legitimacy of high-profile policing activities such as stop and search, live facial recognition and use of the London gang's matrix to surface risk and prevent crime. However, many other policing activities have received much less attention. These activities are equally controversial and, in a democratic society, should be part of the wider public conversation about policing in the UK.

In this seminar, from both an academic and practical perspective, leading researchers in the field provide a critical reflection on three less obvious areas of policing such as domestic abuse, fatal police shootings and undercover operations. The seminar will discuss four broad questions: what do the police do in these controversial areas? How well do they do it? How can it be improved? And how do these activities become part of the public discourse?

Speakers and Presentations

  • Andy Myhill: Violence in, violence out? Issues with 'big data’ on domestic abuse.
  • Nick Francis: Police use of force: A contextual study of 'suicide by cop’ within the British policing paradigm.
  • Paul McFarlane: Long-term community undercover operations: Are they effective?

Speaker Details

  • Dr Andy Myhill of the UK College of Policing: Andy is an Evidence and Evaluation Advisor at the UK College of Policing. He has undertaken research on policing for 15 years, first at the Home Office, and subsequently at the National Policing Improvement Agency and the College. He has also worked on the Crime Survey for England and Wales. He has published both academic papers and government reports on topics including domestic violence, public attitudes to the police, community engagement, and procedural justice.
  • Nick Francis of the Canterbury Centre for Policing Research at Canterbury Christ Church University: Nick is a serving Police Inspector, with over 26 years operational front-line policing experience in the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). For the last 15 years, he was an operational firearms officer at both Sergeant and Inspector ranks within the MPS SCO19 Specialist Firearms Command. He is a nationally qualified Police Firearms Instructor, Firearms Tactical Advisor, Post Incident Manager and Incident Commander (at both Tactical and Operational level). Acquiring special skills, knowledge and experience, in both operational and teaching roles, Nick has commanded a substantial number of safety-critical firearms incidents. As an Instructor, he managed MPS firearms command training for senior police leaders, focussing on decision-making, threat and risk management and specialist tactical resolution. Nick now works in a national firearms role where he advises colleagues and senior police leaders. Developing high-level strategic doctrine for the police service, he works with key stakeholders and external agencies to deliver successful business change and benefits realisation.
  • Dr Paul McFarlane of the Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science and the Institute for Global City Policing at University College London: Paul works at the Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science at University College London, teaching and supervising research in criminal investigation, international and domestic terrorism, organised crime, HUMINT intelligence collection and covert policing operations. He has a long-standing interest in undercover policing, surveillance, intelligence and investigative failures. Previously, Paul was a senior manager in the Metropolitan Police at New Scotland Yard and has three decades of experience of working with law enforcement and international intelligence agencies; building cyber and real-world operational capability to detect and disrupt international terrorist organisations and organised crime groups.