Critical thinking about the uses of research

Published: Mar 2008

Tim Hope, Reece Walters - Centre for Crime and Justice Studies

This report features two essays. The author of one, Professor Reece Walters, argues, `Home Office suppression of criminological research that contradicts ministerial policy and opinion is a feature of this arm of government. The Home Office remains silent on all those topics that have the potential to reflect poorly on government and is not an institution that represents the British public'. Professor Walters calls for an academic boycott of any Home Office sponsored research.

In his essay, Professor Tim Hope, reflecting on his experience of working on Home Office research, argues that `having placed such a premium on evidence based policy the government has failed to live up to that promise and has resorted to fixing both the process and publication of Home Office research publication to meet the political needs of the time.' Professor Hope is worried that officials and politicians can be tempted to be selective in their choice of the evidence used to illustrate success of programmes thus resulting in the exclusion of some data and the simplification or misrepresentation of others.