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  • Author or Editor: Anna Hopkins x
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Understanding the factors that influence the decisions made by victims of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) has, for some time, been a key area of focus for professionals working within the Criminal Justice System and academic researchers alike. Using female victims’ reported decision-making around incidences of DVA as an illustrative case study, this article analyses N=120 police victim statements (PVSs), collected by officers in one force in Northwest England. The usefulness of a PVS as a form of qualitative research data to better understand DVA is examined by means of a deductive content analysis.

Drawing on the literature addressing decision-making by victims in DVA, a simple coding frame was developed to provide a structure for the initial investigation of the PVSs to examine the type of data contained in these legal documents. Findings suggest that, while they have some limitations, PVSs are a valuable and currently under-utilised form of qualitative data to research and understand victim decision-making in DVA.

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To improve the use of evidence in policy and practice, many organisations and individuals seek to promote research-policy engagement activities, but little is known about what works.

Aims and objectives:

We sought (a) to identify existing research-policy engagement activities, and (b) evidence on impacts of these activities on research and decision making.


We conducted systematic desk-based searches for organisations active in this area (such as funders, practice organisations, and universities) and reviewed websites, strategy documents, published evaluations and relevant research. We used a stakeholder roundtable, and follow-up survey and interviews, with a subset of the sample to check the quality and robustness of our approach.


We identified 1923 initiatives in 513 organisations world-wide. However, we found only 57 organisations had publicly-available evaluations, and only 6% (141/2321) of initiatives were evaluated. Most activities aim to improve research dissemination or create relationships. Existing evaluations offer an often rich and nuanced picture of evidence use in particular settings (such as local government), sectors (such as policing), or by particular providers (such as learned societies), but are extremely scarce.

Discussion and conclusions:

Funders, research- and decision-making organisations have contributed to a huge expansion in research-policy engagement initiatives. Unfortunately, these initiatives tend not to draw on existing evidence and theory, and are mostly unevaluated. The rudderless mass of activity therefore fails to provide useful lessons for those wishing to improve evidence use, leading to wasted time and resources. Future initiatives should draw on existing evidence about what works, seek to contribute to this evidence base, and respond to a more realistic picture of the decision-making context.

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