ARU announces Dawes Chair of Public Protection

Published: 18 March 2024 at 12:30

Professor Tim McSweeney

Professor Tim McSweeney will lead new programme to use big data to fight crime

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) has been awarded over £1million from the Dawes Trust to establish a groundbreaking, data-driven public protection programme, which will be headed by Professor Tim McSweeney.

The funding of £1.15m is enabling ARU’s Policing Institute for the Eastern Region (PIER) to launch the ‘first of its kind’ research programme, which will have global reach and will use big data to support the prevention and investigation of harmful crimes, including child sexual abuse and violence against women and girls.

Under Professor McSweeney’s leadership – as the inaugural Dawes Chair of Public Protection – the Global Public Protection Data Research Programme will harness the power of data to address critical gaps in current understanding and translate new knowledge directly back into policy and practice. 

The PIER team has secured access to new data sources and technology, which will allow research and insight into harmful behaviour online and offline, and support work to investigate and prevent sexual crimes against children, the scale of which has increased exponentially in recent years, affecting communities worldwide.

Since the late 1990s, Professor McSweeney has worked on independent studies examining the operation and outcomes of interventions delivered at all stages of the criminal justice process: from policing and the courts, to work undertaken in youth justice, probation and prison settings. His research has been commissioned by central and local government, law enforcement agencies, charitable trusts and international bodies.

Professor McSweeney has held senior research positions with the Home Office (Counter-Extremism Unit) and Ministry of Justice (HM Inspectorate of Prisons), and has served in an advisory capacity to the Council of Europe, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the World Health Organisation on policy responses for tackling drug and alcohol-related crime.

Commenting on his appointment, Professor McSweeney said:

“I’m delighted and excited to be joining PIER and ARU, and leading work on its Global Public Protection Data Research Programme. PIER has an outstanding reputation for high quality research that has real impact on policy and practice. 

“This new programme of applied and data-driven research will address critical gaps in current understanding and help inform the investigation and prevention of some of the most harmful crimes impacting society today.”