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Emergency Services Research Unit (ESRU)

Unit(s) of assessment: Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

Research theme: Safety and Security of Citizens and Society

School: School of Social Sciences


The Emergency Services Research Unit (ESRU), in the Division of Psychology at NTU, not only conducts award-winning research but also provides teaching, training, and consultancy for the emergency services and allied organisations.

ESRU's work with the emergency services and its focus on emergency events and disaster, has led to the unit gaining an international reputation for excellence and expertise. This multidisciplinary unit contains academics with specialist expertise in:

  • psychology
  • business management
  • sociology
  • research methods
  • leadership studies
  • disaster
  • political theory
  • accountancy and finance.

In addition to ESRU's core membership, the unit also draws in other academics from other disciplines throughout the University, as and when required for specific projects.

ESRU provides the emergency services with access to expert knowledge, which draws on both theoretical understandings and empirical findings. It can act as a source of neutral authoritative data which can provide an evidence base for policy making and operational strategy. It provides the emergency services with access to practical expertise which is different from, but complementary to, their existing expertise. ESRU's focus has meant that due attention is now being paid to previously under-researched and unresearched topics of relevance both to the emergency services and to society.

Research from the Emergency Service Research Unit informs a range of the Division of Psychology's courses including the MSc Forensic Mental Health, MSc Psychological Wellbeing and Mental Health.

Emergency Services: Themes in Planning, Response and Recovery Conference

Hosted and organised by the School of Social Sciences' Emergency Services Research Unit, these biannual events aim to create a space for all emergency services practitioners and academics to come together and share research, knowledge and practical concerns.

The next conference will be held in November 2018. All enquiries about the conference should be directed to Rowena Hill.

Contact us

If you would like to know more about the work of the Emergency Services Research Unit, or you wish to commission research or training please contact us by email. Alternatively you can contact Rowena Hill on 0115 84 85532 or via email.


ESRU members have worked in partnership with, or been commissioned by, a diverse range of organisations including:

  • NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management
  • Department of Culture, Media and Sport
  • The Fire Service College
  • The Firefighters Charity
  • Individual Fire and Rescue Services
    • Highlands and Islands
    • Cleveland
    • Tyne and Wear
    • Nottinghamshire
    • Essex
    • North Wales
    • Bedforshire and Luton
    • Buckinghamshire
  • Trauma Training Ltd
  • Time Learning Consultancy
  • CoatiXL
  • Nottinghamshire Constabulary.

Related projects

Knowledge Transfer Partnership Project

Nottingham Trent University (NTU) commenced on a two-year long Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) research project alongside Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS). The objective being to evaluate how effectively NFRS' community safety activities reduce risk in the Nottinghamshire area. The research will also provide an evidence base of the community's needs and its likely future profile. This will assist NFRS in the targeting and delivery of interventions, ensuring that efforts are focused upon the areas which result in the most improvements.

The initial months of the project involved a detailed review of NFRS current practice with regards to the evaluation, delivery and targeting of community safety initiatives. This working practice was placed into context through assessing the evaluation methods of other UK fire and rescue services. Recommendations were made that not only took into consideration the internal structural barriers which were preventing an effective evaluation process, but also the successes of individual evaluation methods which had already been observed within NFRS and at other UK fire and rescue services.

A risk analysis of the KTP project revealed that the misinterpretations of information sharing legislation were a factor in preventing the efficient sharing of information both internally and externally. The inability to collate information systems is likely to prevent the detailed risk profiles of communities, which NFRS are very much in need of especially with regards to accurate targeting processes. Therefore as part of the KTP, an information sharing guidance document has been created; the purpose of which is to assist staff with the requesting, sharing and storing of different categories of information with both internal and external stakeholders. The guidance will facilitate the legitimate sharing of information as it succinctly breaks down the key components of information sharing legislation, placing them within the context of the work of the FRS.

Currently work is being carried out to gain an understanding of the community's needs and perceptions with regards to risk prevention. Risk trends are being identified through a detailed analysis of NFRS incident data and the data of other public services. Any conclusions drawn from such data are being placed into context through assessing demographic trends across Nottinghamshire and England. In the following weeks of the project, work will begin to focus upon the community's perceptions of risk and their beliefs regarding the types of safety interventions which would be of greatest value for their community. This will be achieved through the conduction of focus groups and the administration of questionnaires in order to provide a useful blend of quantitative and qualitative data.

Members of the KTP Project

  • Viv Brunsden – NTU Supervisor
  • Rowena Hill – NTU Supervisor
  • Thomas Simpson – KTP Associate
  • Chris Hooper – NFRS Supervisor

KTP Project Presentations and Articles