Research Output

Defining and Assessing Vulnerability: Perspectives across Law Enforcement and Public Health (LEPH)

  Law enforcement has traditionally been considered to focus mainly on criminal justice issues. However, over the past decade, there has been a dynamic shift in focus, with law enforcement professional groups assuming more responsibility for tackling mental health issues alongside public health colleagues. The concept of vulnerability has also emerged, with the term ‘vulnerability’ now frequently used across Law Enforcement and Public Health (LEPH) in identifying those in need of access to emergency help. However, there are ongoing debates between policing and health as to which service should be accessed and when; how services should be aligned; and discussion about the associated cost implications. Therefore, effective vulnerability assessment is expected to prevent unintentional harmful health and criminal justice consequences, and manage the negative impact of such cases where prevention is not possible. However, there is a dearth of evidence on effective vulnerability assessment, therefore we conducted a scoping study from a LEPH perspective to: 1) conceptually map out and understand if and how the term ‘vulnerability’ is defined, and the context in which it is used across LEPH in different countries; 2) examine the models or methods of vulnerability assessment across LEPH; and 3) identify under researched areas within the context of vulnerability assessment in LEPH.

Prior to the scoping review, we carried out work aiming to co-produce five key areas for LEPH research across Scotland. This involved bringing together an Expert Advisory Group (EAG) of 26 senior level stakeholders, working across academia, policing, health, people with lived experience, and the third sector in a full day interactive workshop. This workshop event prioritised the development of vulnerability assessment, highlighting the need to share this understanding across LEPH professions. Follow up sessions at key time points in decision making for the scoping review maintained involvement of co-produced value with our inter-professional group of experts throughout the project. The current paper discusses the core findings of the scoping review. More importantly, it conceptualises the EAG group event as a co-production process, focusing on how key LEPH research priorities were derived. Essentially, this paper demonstrates the inextricable link between co-production (via the EAG group event) and co-creation of value (via EAG group consensus on LEPH research priorities), and how this can result in both public and social innovation.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper (unpublished)

  • Date:

    23 January 2019

  • Publication Status:



Murray, J., Enang, I., Dougall, N., Wooff, A., Aston, E., & Heyman, I. (2019, January). Defining and Assessing Vulnerability: Perspectives across Law Enforcement and Public Health (LEPH). Paper presented at 4th PUBSIC (Innovation in Public Services and Public Policy) Conference


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