Evaluating Security Interventions in Public Locations

Working in partnership with Coventry University, we aim to develop and test a co-created framework for evaluating protective security.




Protective security is, by its nature, an inter-disciplinary field; it is about the protection of people, information, and physical assets. As a result, a diverse spread of stakeholders, both from a spatial and disciplinary perspectives, is involved across a wide number of different contexts. Previous research has indicated that the protection of publicly accessible locations against terrorism was difficult for policymakers and practitioners.

This project will develop an independent, co-created and evidence-based evaluation framework that promotes and enables effective and proportionate protective security; allows for an analysis and understanding of the unintended consequences of implementing protective security measures when enacted by non-security organisations; and helps reduce personal/competing interests on both the question of the proportionality of measures and the broader knowledge of the challenge.

The project is led by Coventry University and conducted in collaboration with RUSI’s Terrorism and Conflict team.

This research is funded by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST)

Aims and objectives

There is a growing need to understand how protective security can be co-created effectively and efficiently and – more fundamentally – what data should be collected to gain a better picture of whether and how intervention measures have ‘worked’ in terms of both delivery and adoption. For without proper consideration at the earliest stage, ill-suited measures can lead to unintended social consequences, such as the over-securitisation of spaces, visible measures that don’t blend in with the environment, and unexpected fresh vulnerabilities. This may increase the threat of terrorism rather than to manage, mitigate, or reduce it.

Our research seeks to tackle existing knowledge gaps by developing a new methodological, evaluative framework which enhances the holistic effectiveness and socio-economic impact of a wide range of protective security policies and practices formulated and implemented by governments, security, and law enforcement agencies, as well as business organisations. Underpinning this approach is the need to ensure that measures are proportionate to the threat.

The project will use a predominantly qualitative research methodology divided into four phases:

  1. Assessing protective security evaluative practice
  2. Formulating protective security logics for the evaluation design
  3. Evaluative action research in selected cases
  4. Adapting and developing evaluation thinking tools and frameworks.

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