David Weisburd receives the 2022 Sir Robert Peel Medal

David Weisburd receives the 2022 Sir Robert Peel Medal

The University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology has announced that Distinguished Professor David Weisburd, Department of Criminology, Law and Society, has been selected by the Cambridge University Police Executive Program as the tenth winner of the Sir Robert Peel Medal for Outstanding Leadership in Evidence-Based Policing. Weisburd is the first university professor to receive the award. 

The award is named for Sir Robert Peel, a former prime minister of the United Kingdom, who is considered to be the father of modern democratic policing. In 1829, when he was the Home Secretary of England, he founded the London Metropolitan Police service and outlined a series of principles that later guided the formation of police departments around the world. The medal is awarded annually for outstanding leadership in evidence-based policing. Weisburd, who is the executive director of Mason’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy and who also holds an appointment as the Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law and Criminal Justice at the Hebrew University Faculty of Law in Jerusalem, is well-known for his innovative work in place-based criminology, experimental criminology, and white-collar crime. 

Weisburd delivered his Medal Lecture, entitled “Procedural Justice and Hot Spots Policing,” at the 2022 Cambridge International Conference on Evidence-Based Policing at Cambridge University on Tuesday, July 12. The lecture drew in part on the landmark experiment published in March 2022 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Reforming the police through procedural justice training: A multicity randomized trial at crime hot spots.” 

This experiment, conducted in three U.S. cities by six co-authors, found that random assignment of an intensive five-day training course in procedural justice for officers in 60 out of 120 crime hot spots led to major improvements in crime and policing outcomes. The hot spots policed by trained officers experience significantly lower crime counts. They also generated far better public perceptions (and observer ratings) of police conduct in those areas as fair and respectful, compared to similar officers in similar areas who had not received the training. 

“We are truly thrilled by this latest recognition of David’s work,” said Ann Ardis, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “This considerable honor underscores the far-reaching impact of his scholarship on evidence-based practices of policing.” 

James Willis, chair of the Department of Criminology, Law and Society, also appreciates the  significance of the medal. “This award is further evidence of David’s tremendous impact on the world of policing. He is the first non-practitioner to be honored in this way – another demonstration of his ability to do research of consequence, which helps cross the traditional researcher-practitioner divide.  He continues to explore some of the most important empirical and theoretical questions about police effectiveness and fairness at a time when the answers to these questions are more crucial than ever.”  

Weisburd is also widely known for his “Law of Crime Concentration,” the 2014 Sutherland Award address in which he proposed a global pattern of crime hot spots in cities large and small in which most crime occurs—about 5% of public space in cities suffering over 50% of the crime. The 2010 Winner of the Stockholm Prize in Criminology, Weisburd has worked with police agencies around the world to conduct experiments in crime prevention. The founding editor of the Journal of Experimental Criminology, he has also served as President of the Academy of Experimental Criminology.