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About this publication
We were commissioned by the National Police Directorate (POD) to conduct a systematic scoping review. The review summarises studies on the use of balanced scorecard in crime prevention work by the police, focusing on prevention of radicalisation and sexual offences among youth.
We conducted a comprehensive search and screened approximately 12,000 studies. We included six studies thematising balanced scorecard in prevention work directed at youth. Five were qualitative studies and one a mixed-methods study. Three of the studies are Norwegian master theses. The remaining three are Swedish studies: two reports and one article. The study participants are all police employees. None of the identified studies met all the inclusion criteria perfectly, and none of the studies perfectly addressed the phenomenon of interest. The findings show that main topics concerning balanced scorecard in prevention work directed at young people by the police are:
- Challenges in what is measured and how these indicators are registered.
- Trust and community knowledge are central to crime prevention work.
- Prioritization and limited resources.
- Discrepancies between strategies and formulations of achievement goals.
- Understandings of the term prevention.
- Cooperation with other actors in prevention work.
There is very limited documentation on balanced scorecard in the police’s crime prevention work among youth. Further research on the topic will be useful.
The management model of the police is found in the document «Styring i Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet». The document contains, among other things, five governance processes related to the balanced scorecard approach. These processes prescribe goalsetting, in order to highlight ambitions and positive outcomes for users and the society. Goals shall comport with allocated funds, performance requirements, and deadlines. Reporting shall be used to evaluate performance achievement, follow up risks, and make adjustments. Based on the reporting, performance shall be analysed, evaluated, and reconsidered. As the background literature of this report reveals, there are different ideas and opinions on how the principles of the balanced scorecard have influenced police work. One concern is how the balanced scorecard can affect crime prevention, which is supposed to be one of the main strategies of the police. The National Police Directorate (POD) sought to map research on performance management, in particular balanced scorecard, and experiences with that management system within the police force. In particular, the focus was to be on balanced scorecard in relation to youth crime prevention, and in particular sexual offences and radicalisation. This project is part of a larger commission, and the other part of the project addresses the effects of preventive interventions targeted at youth crime, in particular sexual offences and radicalisation.
We conducted as systematic scoping review on the balanced scorecard in the police’s crime prevention work targeting youth.
We conducted a systematic scoping review (also called systematic mapping review). A scoping review is a literature review of a clearly defined research question that includes a systematic and scientific procedure to map and descriptively recount existing research on a specific topic.
We conducted a comprehensive search for studies between March and May 2020. We conducted a common search for the two related projects (balanced scorecard and effects of crime preventive interventions). We searched in both electronic databases and in sources for grey literature. Grey literature is research that has not been published in traditional or formal commercial publication channels. We searched for studies published 2000 and more recently. Two researchers independently screened all references identified through the searches; first by title and abstract, and subsequently all relevant full-texts. All studies were screened according to the inclusion criteria.
The inclusion criteria were:
P (population): Police employees (at different levels), attorneys general, directors of public prosecution bodies, Ministries of Justice, or similar bodies in other countries.
I (intervention): Balanced scorecard or other systems of key performance indicators related to police work. Prioritised as follows:
1: Balanced scorecard or goal formulations in crime prevention work targeted at sexual offences and radicalisation among young people (up to 24 years old).
2: Balanced scorecard in crime prevention work target at young people (up to 24 years old).
O (outcome): Descriptions of management by balanced scorecard and the design of goals, consequences of these, and experiences of such management systems.
Study design: Empirical studies, i.e. effect studies, studies of experience, observational studies and studies that combine quantitative and qualitative methods. In this scoping review, we have not excluded studies based on study design.
Context: Prioritised as follows:
1: Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland),
2: The Netherlands and Great Britain,
Year: Published year 2000 and later.
One researcher extracted data from the studies. The extractions were quality-controlled by a second researcher. The data extracted from each study was sorted, combined and summarised narratively. Tables were created where relevant. We extracted and presented descriptions of balanced scorecard management systems and experience with such systems and crime prevention work. We did not evaluate risk of bias.
We screened 12,376 references by title and abstract, of which 1,120 were identified through grey literature searches. The search included two related projects, and 25 studies were considered relevant for this project on balanced scorecard. Of the 25 studies considered relevant and screened in full-text, six studies met the inclusion criteria. These six studies, in different ways thematise relations between balanced scorecard management systems, crime prevention and youth crime. None focus directly on balanced scorecard in the prevention of sexual offences or radicalisation.
The six included studies are published between 2003 and 2019, and five are published 2010 or later. There were five qualitative studies and one that analysed both qualitative and quantitative data. Three are Norwegian master theses. The other three are from Sweden, including two reports and one article. There were just over 100 participants – police employees in Norway and Sweden – in total.
We identified six relevant topics:
- Challenges in what is measured and how these indicators are registered: Police work is reactive, and what is being reacted to (measured) is crime. Thus, activities that prevent crime might be rendered invisible and not prioritised. Crime that has been prevented is not shown in statistics for police work in the short run. How target indicators are formulated and chosen can be challenging, and police experience being measured on productivity rather than effectivity. Police expect that their prevention work will also be measured, and they suggest performance to be measured using qualitative indicators, rather than quantitative.
- Trust and community knowledge are central to crime prevention work: Trust and community knowledge are experienced as central in the prevention work, but this takes time and is difficult to plan. The effort this kind of work requires is difficult to register, or be acknowledged, by the indicators.
- Priorities and limited resources: Limited resources and priorities are experienced as inhibiting prevention work. While such work is prioritised on paper, it is difficult to quantify; expectations were seldom followed up with adequate resources; and there is limited time to work preventively.
- Discrepancies between strategies and formulations of achievement goals: There is an experience of little agreement between strategies and the performance indicators that those employed in the police force meet in their daily work. And the work is evaluated by these indicators. Even though prevention work is prioritised on paper, this is not reflected in the performance indicators. Major elements of policework are not represented by the indicators, despite being central in management documents.
- Understandings of the term “prevention”: There is an experience that there are different understandings of what the term prevention entails. This will influence priorities, how prevention work is planned and executed, what resources are alocated and whether the work is documented in the management systems. A common understanding would be useful.
- Cooperation with other actors in prevention work: There is a perception that prevention work is not something that can be done by the police force alone, but that the required cooperation is time- and resource demanding, and this is difficult to draw attention to in the balanced scorecard.
This systematic scoping review shows that there are few studies on how balanced scorecard management systems affect the police’s work on crime prevention directed at young people, and no studies on how balanced scorecard management systems affect the police’s work on crime prevention directed at sexual offences or radicalisation among young people. The few studies that, in different ways, focus on crime prevention, balanced scorecard, and youth, shed light on various challenges, including limited resources, understandings of prevention work, and cross-sectoral efforts. The results of this review might contribute to strengthening the strategic work in crime prevention directed at youth. To more directly answer questions concerning balanced scorecard and prevention work directed at youth crime, we need more research.