The science-policy interface in policy theories: A comparative case study of street level policing for illicit drugs

Date Commenced:
March 2014
Expected Date of Completion:
Project Supporters:

Australian Research Council - Discovery Project DP140100219

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Project Members
Project Main Description

This study will shed light on how policy gets formed by police, and what influences the policy formulation process. Two policy case studies: drug detection dogs and police attendance at drug overdose, will be used to test two very prominent policy process theories: Kingdon’s Multiple Streams and Sabatier’s Advocacy Coalition Framework. Examination of these policy process theories in the context of policing of illicit drugs has the potential to provide significant new insights about the interface of science and policy, such that more effective drug policies become possible.


Through a comparative case study approach, this project will:

a) Assess the scientific merit of the two competing policy process theories (across the two case studies);

b) Examine their applicability to the unique policing context; and

c) Study the ways in which each theory can account for the interface between science and policy.

Design and Method

Documents describing the events and activities around the policy developments for the two case studies will be reviewed. Interviews will be conducted with experts who were involved in the two case studies. From the documentary review and expert interviews, we will develop a narrative that conforms to each of the two policy theories. These narratives (one for Kingdon’s Multiple Streams and one for Sabatier’s Advocacy Coalition framework) will then be analysed for congruence, explanatory power, and face validity with police, and the relationship between science and policy teased out.


The project is underway, with case study narratives being developed.


Ritter, A., & Lancaster, K. (2013) Illicit drugs, policing and the evidence-based policy paradigm, Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice, 9(4), 457-472.

Project Supporters

Australian Research Council - Discovery Project DP140100219


This project will create new knowledge in relation to:

·         The scientific merit of two competing policy theoretical frameworks, and contribute amendments and improvements to the theories;

·         New insights into how well such theories apply to street-level policing

·         Comprehensive timelines and a narrative description of two case studies – of use to police and policy researchers

·         Better understanding of the dynamic relationship between science and policy

Project Collaborators: External

Professor Robert Hoppe
University of Twente, Netherlands

Project Research Area
Project Status
Date Commenced
March 2014

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