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									MEMORANDUM FROM RESEARCH COUNCILS UK (RCUK) TO THE OSI
CONSULTATION ON THE REVIEW OF SCIENCE IN THE HOME OFFICE

Introduction

1.      Research Councils UK (RCUK)1 is a strategic partnership that champions the research
        supported by the eight UK Research Councils. Through RCUK the Research Councils
        are creating a common framework for research, training and knowledge transfer.

2.      This memorandum is submitted by RCUK on behalf of the Arts and Humanities
        Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Economic
        and Social Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and
        Medical Research Council and represents our independent views. It does not include,
        or necessarily reflect, the views of the Office of Science and Innovation (OSI).

3.      This memorandum provides evidence from RCUK in response to the main topics and
        questions identified in the consultation document, in addition to supplementary views
        from:

        Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)                                  Annex 1
        Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)                                  Annex 2
        Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)                   Annex 3
        Medical Research Council (MRC)                                               Annex 4

Summary

4.        RCUK welcomes the opportunity from the Office of Science and Innovation to
          respond to this consultation on the Review of Science in the Home Office. The
          Councils have experienced strengthened links with the Home Office over recent years
          through a variety of mechanisms, including Concordats, Forums and engagement in
          joint programmes and initiatives, and very much welcome that strengthening.

5.        The Councils are impressed by the Home Office’s ability to work across Departmental
          boundaries in particular areas, for example the collaboration with the Office for
          National Statistics on developing the integrity of key datasets on crime. The Research
          Councils wish to further develop our interactions with the Home Office (the
          Department) and our understanding of its research priorities in areas where we can , be
          strong collaborators, particularly in the areas of crime, criminal justice and national
          security.

6.        The Department is already engaged with various Councils’ initiatives in crime, for
          example in areas of national security; on bio-security; on the EPSRC Think Crime
          Programme, and in commissioning research following a Parliamentary Seminar on
          New Security Challenges. Councils have identified a number of priority areas for
          future research investment for the next Comprehensive Spending Review in the areas
          of crime, criminal justice and national security; crime free environments, secure
          products and services, cyber security and innovation in detection technology;
          understanding identities and culture, and global security and migration. For the
          Research Councils the Home Office is clearly a major stakeholder in such research
          and we would welcome further dialogue and collaboration with the Department on the
          future direction of their activities and in the development of policy in these areas.


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7.    The Home Office requires scientific advice and/or expertise in the use of animals in
      research, which BBSRC and the MRC are keen to engage more fully in. The Home
      Office already works with ESRC on the development of national data resources and
      enhancing existing resources, and feels that there is scope to develop this further. The
      Department is also a member of the UK Data Forum (UKDF), a body which brings
      together those with responsibility for the development of data resources to ensure that
      the UK national data infrastructure meets the demands which will be placed upon it to
      address current and future research needs

8.    Councils would welcome and encourage further engagement and joint working with
      the full range of research disciplines to strengthen the research base and underpin
      future Government policies. This would be greatly assisted by the further development
      of horizon scanning within the Department, and consultation with relevant
      stakeholders in developing the Department's future strategic direction, both in research
      and policy. Key areas for engagement in addition to those outlined above might
      include research on drug addiction, forensic psychology, antisocial behaviour, animal
      welfare, equality and diversity, and identity and trust.

9.    Specifically, the Councils would welcome the opportunity to jointly commission
      research which could make a contribution to policy based upon the principles of
      quality, relevance and independence. Greater fluidity and engagement between
      research and practice, including innovative opportunities for interaction (e.g. through
      collaborative studentships and fellowships, secondments, placements, exchanges,
      internships and so on) could have a valuable role both in enhancing the Home Office’s
      own internal expertise, and in enhancing capacity for policy-relevant research within
      the broader research community. Research Councils are also keen to ensure that the
      Department and its Agencies are engaged in the evaluation and exploitation of the
      outputs of our research.



Research Councils UK
January 2007




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                                                                                       Annex 1

CONTRIBUTION FROM THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES RESEARCH COUNCIL
(AHRC)

      1. The Home Office’s relationship with the Arts and Humanities Research Council has
         grown substantially over the last year. The Home Office is beginning to explore the
         potential contribution arts and humanities research can make to areas of Home Office
         interest particularly domestic security, equality and diversity, and issues of identity
         and trust. We encourage the Home Office to continue its interest in harnessing
         research and engaging expertise from the full range of research disciplines available,
         including the arts and humanities.

      New Security Challenges

      2. On the 28 February 2006 AHRC organized a Parliamentary seminar sponsored by Phil
         Willis MP, on New Security Challenges. Speakers included Professors Tony McEnery
         (AHRC Director of Research), Kim Knott (Director of the AHRC’s Diasporas and
         Migration Programme) and Stuart Croft. The seminar was aimed at policy makers,
         MPs and Peers, attracting c.40 attendees, including Sir Lawrence Freedman and Lord
         Tim Garden.

      3. Following the Seminar the Home Office Chief Scientific Officer commissioned
         research on this theme. Professor Kim Knott will present her findings on the
         contribution that arts and humanities research makes to security issues and the
         formulation of security policy at an AHRC event on 20 March 20072.

      Diasporas, Migration and Identities3

      4. There is an urgent need to develop research on the cultural aspects of diasporas,
         migration and identities. Such aspects whether relating to traditions, languages,
         religions, literature, material culture, the visual or performing arts have often been
         neglected in public discourse in the UK. To address this need AHRC launched its
         Diasporas, Migration and Identities Programme in April 2005 - a five year £5.5M
         trans-disciplinary Programme directed by Professor Kim Knott. Research funded
         through this scheme addresses issues related to diasporas and migration, and their past
         and present impact on subjectivity and identity, culture and the imagination, place and
         space, emotion, politics and sociality. This Programme was the first autonomous
         research Programme run by the AHRC, and aims to maximise the participation of
         scholars from a wide range of arts and humanities disciplines. Interdisciplinary
         engagement and collaborations with partners in the public sector, the cultural sector
         and the wider community have been particularly encouraged, as is the imaginative
         dissemination of the research. Its postgraduate Programme will encourage the next
         generation of researchers working in this area and its second conference for
         postgraduate students will take place in 2008. The final conference is planned for
         2009.

      Religion and Society

      5. Professor Linda Woodhead, Lancaster University Directs a new £8.5M five and a half
         year AHRC:ESRC collaborative programme Religion and Society. This cross-Council
         Programme is the first of its kind to bring researchers from the full range of arts,
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    2 – 4pm at 1 Chadwick Street, Westminster, London SW1P 2EP
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    www.diasporas.co.uk
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                                                                                        Annex 1

           humanities and social sciences disciplines together in order to understand the role of
           religion in shaping our lives, communities and society. This Programme aims to
           increase understanding amongst the wider public of these relationships, contribute to
           policy and practice, and engage potential end users through collaboration.

      6. The first research awards will be made later this year. The full Programme
         specification4was developed following consultation events that attracted over 170
         participants and interviews with leading academics in the field, and consultation with
         faith groups, government departments, independent researchers and journalists.

      Countering Terrorism

      7. The AHRC, ESRC and Foreign and Commonwealth Office will launch a new
         programme later this year provisionally entitled New Security Challenges:
         ‘Radicalisation’ and Violence - A Critical Reassessment. There are several areas
         where the arts and humanities could bring unique perspectives to this area, for
         example, the ethical and legal implications of the technologies used to counter
         terrorism, cross-cultural issues regarding norms of behaviour and the impact of
         architecture and design on the safety of public places.

      Other Activities: BA Science Festival – briefing on new security research – 4 September
      2006

      8. As part of last year’s BA Science Festival the AHRC Communications team organised
         a briefing aimed at journalists on security-related research. This was lead by Professor
         Kim Knott and chaired by writer and broadcaster Vivienne Parry. Other contributions
         were given by Bill Durodie, who leads ESRC work on domestic terrorism incidents,
         Professor Nigel Allinson of Sheffield University and virology expert Professor Ian
         Cooper.




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    http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/apply/research/sfi/ahrcsi/religion_society.asp
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                                                                                       Annex 2

CONTRIBUTION FROM THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
(ESRC)

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) welcomes the opportunity to contribute
to the OSI's Review of science in the Home Office.

The ESRC's links with the Home Office have strengthened considerably over recent years.
We have a formal concordat with the Home Office, the Home Office is an active participant
in the Strategic Forum for the Social Sciences (SFSS), and we are in close contact with
relevant officials.

   1. has developed a clear, overall science strategy

The Home Office has made considerable efforts to develop a clear and coherent strategy with
regard to social science, including the very welcome development of data resources. Changes
within the Home Office have meant that this process has not yet been fully developed to its
full potential, and we believe there remains opportunity to develop particular partnerships
further.

   2. "horizon scans" to identify future science-related issues

As far as we are aware this work has not developed into a comprehensive horizon scanning
programme. A key future challenge will be to do so in dialogue with key stakeholders in the
research and policy communities, to inform broader debates about future research agendas.
The ESRC for its part would be happy to engage in this.

   3. reviews and harnesses existing research and identifies gaps and opportunities for
      future research

The Home Office has had an extensive and high quality in-house social science research
capacity supplemented by external expertise where necessary. The Home Office commitment
to enhance the evidence base for understanding the effects of specific interventions, e.g. in the
prison service, is impressive and they will be reporting to the Strategic Forum on outstanding
methodological requirements for development, where the ESRC expects to be involved in a
collaborative follow up.

   4. commissions and manages new research

Home Office commissioned research is often clearly in the most sensitive areas of national
security and contested public policy. In such areas, careful oversight of research in process
and checking of research outcomes is essential. The Home Office addresses this with
appropriate seriousness. We have seen criticisms in the media from some researchers who
clearly believe that this oversight and checking has been too intrusive, though we have no
evidence from ESRC funded research in collaboration with the Home Office that this is the
case.

The Home Office was engaged in the specification and commissioning in the ESRC Priority
Network Pathways Into and Out of Crime: Risk, Resilience and Diversity. We would
welcome further opportunities to jointly commission research with the Home Office where
the quality, relevance and independence of the research would be clear to all. Currently, talks
are in process jointly with the Home Office and Government Social Research Unit on the
need to establish a Policy Trials Unit. A scoping study has been commissioned by the Home

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                                                                                        Annex 2

Office on behalf of the three organisations; the final report of the Study it due to be submitted
to the Home Office in early February. We welcome this approach to commissioning and
managing research.

   5. ensures the quality and relevance of the research it carries out and sponsors

The ESRC emphasises the continued importance of the use of rigorous independent peer
review for quality control of both in house and contracted work. We believe that the Home
Office have a similar approach, but we are not able to comment on the detail of this. We also
believe that the research exploitation and associated enhancement of administrative data, e.g.
on migration, can improve both the quality and relevance of research. This is an issue on
which we are aware that the Home Office is already acting. There will be further
opportunities where the Home Office will be able to work with the Council to enhance data
resources, notably through the new UK Household Longitudinal Study, and we would be
happy to work with the department on such issues.

   6. uses the research and scientific advice, for example in formulating policy

We believe that in many areas the Home Office has drawn quite directly on the best available
scientific advice to formulate policy, e.g. on migration and prison reform. In some areas,
research evidence is appropriately only one input to policy formulation, alongside many
others. Incorporating research into policy formulation will continue to pose future challenges
for the Home Office as it does for all Government Departments - the ESRC’s ability to
commission complementary research in our own related key challenges (but designed to have
impact on policy) should further help the Home Office meet this challenge in the future.

   7. publishes results and debates their implications openly

We have no comments to make under this heading beyond those at 4 above.

   8. shares, transfers and manages knowledge

We have been impressed by the Home Office’s ability to work across Departmental
boundaries on issues relevant to national security. We are pleased to see the collaboration
with the Office for National Statistics on developing the integrity of key datasets on crime. A
challenge ahead is the co-ordination of research on communities where former responsibilities
of the Home Office are now taken forward by other Departments, although research on crime
and the administration of criminal justice remain central to the understanding of
neighbourhood renewal.

The Home Office was a partner in the pilot round of the ESRC’s Placement Fellowship
Scheme in early 2006. Dr David Pevalin of the University of Essex is currently working on a
12 –month Fellowship looking at the ‘drivers of confidence in the criminal justice system’.
The Home Office will also be jointly hosting with ESRC the Social Context of Pathways into Crime
(SCOPIC) final conference later in 2007. In these ways we believe that with ESRC the Home
Office engages well in both people and knowledge transfer.

   9. has implemented the guidance contained in Guidelines 2000 and the Code of
      Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees

We have no comments to make under this heading.


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                                                                                       Annex 2

   10. uses, maintains and develops scientific expertise (including both capacity and
       capacity building)

For an organisation which has historically made considerable and effective use of in house
scientific capacity, there are particular challenges in accessing external research capacity.
From our discussions with the Home Office we believe that there is increasing recognition of
the importance to it of a sustaining a vibrant high quality social science research external base
upon which it can draw. Issues here go beyond those raised by full economic costing, and as
well as the issues under 4 above include two way exchanges between academia and the Home
Office , which the ESRC would be pleased to facilitate.




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                                                                                     Annex 3

CONTRIBUTION FROM THE ENGINEERING AND PHYSICAL SCIENCES
RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

  1. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) welcomes the
     opportunity to contribute to the OSI's Review of science in the Home Office.

  2. We are the UK's leading funding agency for research and training in engineering and
     the physical sciences, investing around £650M in 2006/07 in a broad range of subjects
     – from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to
     structural engineering. We operate to meet the needs of industry and society by
     working in partnership with universities to invest in people and scientific discovery
     and innovation. The knowledge and expertise gained maintains a technological
     leading edge, builds a strong economy and improves people's quality of life.

  3. The EPSRC has successfully developed links with the Home Office and a number of
     its Executive Agencies over the past few years. Much of our activities with the Home
     Office have centred on EPSRC’s Think Crime Programme where the Home Office
     Science Development Branch (HOSDB) and Forensic Science Service (FSS) are
     significant collaborators on and contributors to the research portfolio. The Police
     Information Technology Organisation (PITO) also collaborates on and contributes to
     the research portfolio.

  4. EPSRC wishes to further develop our interactions with the Department and
     understanding of its research priorities, in particular in the area of crime and security.
     We have identified a number of priority areas for future research investment: crime
     free environments, secure products and services, cyber security and innovation in
     detection technology. We therefore consider the Department to be a major stakeholder
     in our crime, terrorism and security research and training activities and are continuing
     to develop our contacts with the Department and its agencies and our process of
     dialogue on the future direction of our activities.




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                                                                                     Annex 4

CONTRIBUTION FROM THE MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (MRC)

  1. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the above review. MRC and the Home
     Office share common interests on health issues as well as the use of animals in
     research. Our response to your review is structured around these two main areas.

  Health Research

  2. The MRC’s research portfolio spans the breadth of medical research from basic
     underpinning research on cellular and molecular function in health and disease
     through to large scale randomised controlled trials. This portfolio has been used to
     inform Home Office practice and policy in the past (e.g. the development of the DNA
     fingerprinting technique by Sir Alec Jeffreys in Leicester was supported by MRC) and
     has the potential to continue to do so in the future (e.g. understanding the human
     genome is likely to yield new information on the role of psychological, genetic and
     environmental influences on human behaviour and development).

  3. The main areas of common interest between the MRC and the Home Office are drug
     addiction, forensic psychiatry and anti-social behaviour, and in recent years, the Home
     Office and the MRC have had fruitful discussions on these topics. The initial focus has
     been to discuss MRC’s research portfolio and then to suggest that the Home Office
     contacts leading UK scientists for more detailed discussions. The MRC would
     welcome further engagement with the Home Office in these important areas, as there
     is scope for joint working to strengthen the research base to underpin future
     Government policies around health issues.

  4. The Home Office does not have a budget to fund health research, although MRC-
     supported researchers do collaborate with Home Office officials and agencies to
     develop research proposals that could be used to inform policy (e.g. in the area of drug
     addiction in released prisoners). Where possible, the use of research in policy
     development is strongly supported by MRC; however at present, there appears to be
     no route to funding such proposals within the Home Office. We would encourage the
     Home Office to collaborate with appropriate funding bodies in the UK to support
     research in these high priority areas.

  5. The Home Office’s research committees do include MRC-supported scientists, and the
     MRC supports the Home Office-led initiative in research methods; the Strategic
     Advisory Group on Experimental Methods (SAGEM). SAGEM has recently led an
     initiative scoping the potential for a cross-Department Policy Trials Unit to support the
     use of experimental and quasi-experimental research methods for policy evaluation.
     MRC supports this approach as the aims are consistent with a similar MRC/Chief
     Scientist Office (Scotland) collaboration to integrate policy and research in public
     health by building evaluations into public health policy when it is implemented.

  Animals in Research

  6. In this area, the Home Office requires scientific advice and/or expertise for a number
     of issues, including:

        Assessing cost/benefit in applications for project licences



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                                                                                  Annex 4

      Assessing whether the work proposed in project licences can be undertaken
       without using animals

      Assessing whether the animals proposed are the most suitable species, and number

      Setting and enforcing welfare standards

7. The Home Office has The Animal Procedures Committee (APC) to advise the Home
   Secretary on matters concerned with the Animal (Scientific Procedures)Act and his
   functions under it, relating to ‘any experimental or other scientific procedures applied
   to a protected animal which may have the effect of causing that animal pain, suffering,
   distress or lasting harm….’. It is important that the APC has appropriate scientific
   expertise amongst its membership, and that the scientific voice is not unbalanced by
   views on the use of animals not supported by evidence.

8. The Home Office Inspectors play a key role in assessing applications for project
   licences and in inspecting premises. According to the Home Office website, the
   Inspectorate is composed of registered medical and veterinary practitioners who
   usually have first hand experience of biomedical research, and possess higher
   scientific or clinical postgraduate qualifications. The MRC would expect that all
   inspectors should meet the last criteria. The MRC welcomes the recent increase in the
   number of inspectors (now 27), but would hope that some of the variation in how they
   approach their tasks could be reduced. The MRC strongly recommends that the
   Inspectorate staff maintain awareness of methodological developments so that they
   may be used to underpin decisions on individual project licences, as well as to advise
   on future policies and legislation.

9. The MRC and a number of other funders, including the BBSRC and the Home Office,
   work together to facilitate the promotion, development and implementation of the 3Rs
   (reduction, refinement and replacement) in animal research and testing. One
   mechanism for this collaborative working is the National Centre for the Replacement,
   Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), to which the Home
   Office has transferred its own 3Rs research budget. We supported this change, as we
   believe this is a more cost-effective use of these resources.




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