Alpa’s research examines the intersections between race, law, borders and the criminal justice process. She also works on mapping the disciplinary trajectories of criminology and migration and their engagement with race, gender and colonialism. In a recent project funded by the University of Oxford Fell Fund awarded to Mary Bosworth and Alpa Parmar, Alpa examined the changing nature of policing, in light of the contemporary increase in global migration. One strand of the project looked at Operation Nexus, a policy introduced in England and Wales in 2012, which formally joined ordinary policing together with immigration enforcement. While the police have always been involved in matters of migration, Operation Nexus implemented procedures so that all suspects brought into police custody, and thought to be foreign national, had immigration status checks performed on them. The ostensible aim of the policy was to target ‘high harm’ offenders, and the research was interested in understanding if this was actually the case, in practice. Immigration officers were either stationed in police custody suites or the police worked closely with the Home Office to conduct immigration status checks. A second strand of the project which is currently underway involves exploring the role of police intelligence and criminal evidence in immigration tribunal hearings in England and Wales. The project adopts a mixed method research design to investigate these processes in detail. Two journal articles based on the research have been published so far, one on the racializing consequences of technology in policing migration practices and a second on the impacts on citizenship arising from police involvement in immigration control.
Broader questions explored by Alpa’s policing migration research include asking how the merger between immigration law and criminal law impacts on the due process and legal protection rights offered to those without secure citizenship? How does legal discretion impact on the nexus between immigration control, criminal law and criminal justice practices? What are the consequences for racialized communities when the police and immigration form a clear and strategic alliance?