Rob Ewin


This paper discusses the project and encounter phases of Rowan (1981) dialectic research cycle in the use of Deliberative Inquiry (DI). The method was chosen to examine further the area of Vulnerable and Intimidated witnesses and follows from previous research and literature reviews (Ewin, 2015; Ewin 2016). The central tenet was to create a more in depth analysis in doing research 'with people' instead of offering access to it via the inclusion of their response to data. The participants were a mixture of Detectives, Police Constables, victim advocates and specialists within the management or research of vulnerable populations. Three DI sessions were held to discuss the identification of vulnerable and intimidated witnesses and the process of being a witness in a criminal trial.  The methodology was found to be both positive for the co-researching participant, offering an open exchange of knowledge between researcher and practitioner, and generating empirical discussion. There are however limitations that were drawn into sharp focus in an operational Policing environment; in particular, the demand on co-researchers to commit to higher priority, sporadic incidents, impacts on the time available. The method might be most valuable in conjunction with other data collection techniques, quantitative methods, and after an informed literature review has taken place. DI could be used within the framework of evidence based Policing to help integrate research into practice through the use of ‘action’ initiators or groups, using a combination of the dialectic research cycle and other qualitative methods to make a purposeful and informed research project or evaluation (Rowan, 1981; Heron, 1996; Reason, 1988).