Hot Spot Policing in New Zealand: A Mixed Methods Study on Police Officer Perspectives

Usherwood, Chloe Theresa
Buttle, John
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Master of Criminology and Criminal Justice
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Auckland University of Technology

This study explores the attitudes of police officers in New Zealand towards hot spots policing. Hot spots policing is a place-based crime prevention strategy which entails a focused police response at high crime locations. The study focuses on exploring the attitudes of police officers towards the specific strategy of increasing police visibility (heightened patrol levels) at these locations. Data collection was carried out using a mixed methods approach comprising of a principally quantitative online questionnaire supplemented with semi-structured interviews with police officers. Through utilising a purposive sampling approach, a total of 164 participants completed the questionnaire and interviews were conducted with three police officers. Analysis techniques encompassed a series of independent samples t-tests to analyse the quantitative data as well as a thematic analysis to identify patterns and themes within the qualitative data. The findings indicate that police officer attitudes towards hot spots policing are complex. Although most officers expressed moderate support for hot spot policing as a crime prevention strategy, they simultaneously identified numerous limitations of the strategy. Some frustration was also expressed towards certain organisational factors and the current implementation of the strategy in an operational context. The research also found that officers expressed a level of resistance towards the integration of evidence-based decision making in the policing environment. This thesis explores a subject that remains a largely under-researched area, both overseas and in New Zealand. However, further research is required in order to develop further insights into police officer attitudes and to inform policy and practise in the future.

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