Strategies police can use to improve relationships with immigrant communities is the focus of a new Griffith University Australian Research Council grant.

“Police rely heavily on the public to report victimisation, crime incidents and terrorist threats,’’ says Professor Kristina Murphy from the Griffith Criminology Institute.

“However, people can be reluctant to engage with police. This can be especially so for new immigrants.

“This project explores why immigrants disengage from police. It also examines how immigrants perceive and respond to procedural justice policing; an approach that emphasises respect, voice, and fair treatment.

“We want to know whether this approach increases immigrants’ willingness to cooperate with police in crime and terrorism prevention.”

Professor Murphy said promoting immigrants’ willingness to engage with police is important because new immigrants are over-represented in Australian victimisation statistics.

“With crime and terrorism costing Australia billions of dollars annually, understanding why immigrants are reluctant to engage with police is crucial.”

The three-year project will use focus groups and surveys with three immigrant groups – Middle Eastern Muslims, Vietnamese and Anglophone immigrants from the UK.

“Immigrants from the Middle East and Vietnam were chosen because both have had difficult relationships with police in Australia. Both groups are also less trusting of police than other immigrant groups in Australia.

“It is anticipated the project outcomes will improve police relationships with immigrants, and assist in the prevention of crime and terrorism.”