Preliminary findings from an evidence map of international police bias research

Dr Lisa Tompson1

1Te Puna Haumaru  NZ Institute For Security & Crime Science, Hamiton, New Zealand


Understanding Policing Delivery’ is a long-term research programme, begun in 2021, that focuses on where bias may exist within NZ Police policies, processes, and practices. This is to ensure that the delivery of policing services in Aotearoa New Zealand is fair, impartial, ethical and just.

Te Puna Haumaru NZ Institute for Security and Crime Science at the University of Waikato is conducting independent research that contributes towards this programme of work. The first stage of this research is a stocktake of the evidence that already exists on where bias may be occurring in policing and why. This presentation will focus on the evidence map that is being generated of the international literature in this area.

Evidence and gap maps are a systematic evidence synthesis product which display the available evidence relevant to a specific research question. They are gaining popularity as a scoping method for identifying what kinds of evidence exist on a topic, and where there are gaps in knowledge that need to be filled with new research. In this presentation the systematic methods that were used in this research will be outlined, and preliminary findings will be shared. This includes some of the theories that have been proposed overseas that account for police bias in those jurisdictions. The audience will be invited to vote on what they think is the most plausible or useful theory to be used in future empirical research on policing in NZ.


Dr Lisa Tompson is a Senior Lecturer at the NZ Institute for Security and Crime Science and has worked in the Crime Science field for 15 years. During that time, her work has helped to shape the professionalization agenda for the UK police, and the infrastructure underpinning this transformation. In particular, she led the research team that systematically assembled the evidence base for the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction. Lisa has also worked on many projects helping the police and other crime reduction agencies to generate insight on crime patterns and has developed several innovative methods for studying ‘hidden crime’ (e.g., waste crime, human trafficking). Before she left UCL, she led a team to achieve an Athena SWAN gender equality charter award, which involved doing extensive analysis on multiple dimensions of inequality. Lisa’s research interests are evidence synthesis, evidence-based policing, and the use of space-time analysis to understanding crime patterns.