Alpa read Social and Political Sciences as an undergraduate at Cambridge and also completed her doctorate at the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge, in which she empirically examined perceptions of Asian criminality in the UK. Her PhD was part of the Peterborough Adolescent Development Study which is an ongoing longitudinal project in the UK.  Following completion of her PhD, Alpa held a British Academy Postdoctoral fellowship at the School of Law at King's College London during which she researched police stop and search practices under the Terrorism Act 2000 and the consequences of counter-terrorist polices for minority ethnic groups - particularly British Asian people. Theoretically her research considers the implications of security practices upon notions of belonging and ethnic identity, and experiences of multi-cultural citizenry. During her postdoctoral fellowship, Alpa was a visiting scholar at Berkeley, University of California, at which time she conducted a comparative policing study on stop and search and stop and frisk. Her book Crime and the Asian Community is forthcoming (Oxford University Press) and her recent publications include 'Configuring Ethnic Identities: resistance as a response to counter-terrorist policy' (2014) in New Directions in Race, Ethnicity and Crime. Alpa's research focuses on the intersections between race, gender and criminalization and her current research projects explore the policing of migration in the UK and minority ethnic life stories of offending. Alpa is also interested in the intersection of securitization and race its consequences for people crossing borders across the world.


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  • A Parmar, 'Arresting (non)citizenship: The policing migration nexus of nationality, race and criminalization' (2020) 24 Theoretical Criminology
    In this article I examine ‘Operation Nexus’, a collaborative initiative between the police and immigration enforcement in the UK, and its impact on foreign national and minority ethnic suspects of offending. I explain how strategic policing aims to manage migration around notions such as ‘high harm’ offenders, target those who appear ‘foreign’ as well as visible ethnic minority suspects, the latter of which may hold citizenship in the UK. The consequences of Operation Nexus are therefore wider than its stated aim because it legitimizes racial profiling by the police and has negative consequences on notions of belonging for racialized foreign nationals and citizens albeit in different ways. By presenting empirical research with those who implement Operation Nexus as well as those who experience it, I elucidate how the policing of migration revives and extends colonial premises that connect nationality, race and criminalization within the expanding and merging realm of contemporary criminal justice and migration control. I draw on Lerman and Weaver’s thesis that when contemporary criminal justice policies disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities, they create an unequal group of people that are exiled within their own society and disenfranchised from public institutions such as the police.
  • A Parmar, 'Borders as Mirrors: Racial Hierarchies and Policing Migration' (2020) 28 Critical Criminology
    This article considers how state-controlled borders and bordering practices are conceptualized, what they symbolize, and the consequences of these representations. By analyzing critically the metaphors that are used to describe borders and migration, and by drawing on empirical research on policing migration in the United Kingdom, an alternative metaphor, where borders are depicted heuristically as mirrors, may be instructive for capturing the multiple functions of borders and their racializing consequences. I propose that borders and their control across Western liberal democracies are like mirrors that represent, reflect and, at times, deflect the reality of exclusionary attitudes and the racialized anxieties they foment. Harnessing the function of borders through a process of self-reflection, where societies hold a mirror to themselves, may be both instructive and transformative. By reconsidering the metaphors employed in relation to migration, the article contributes to interdisciplinary debates on border studies, critical race perspectives and the criminalization of mobility.
  • C Phillips, R Earle, A Parmar and D Smith, 'Dear British Criminology: Where has all the race and racism gone?' (2020) 24 Theoretical Criminology
    In this article we use Emirbayer and Desmond’s institutional reflexivity framework to critically examine the production of racial knowledge in British criminology. Identifying weakness, neglect and marginalization in theorizing race and racism, we focus principally on the disciplinary unconscious element of their three-tier framework, identifying and interrogating aspects of criminology’s ‘obligatory problematics’, ‘habits of thought’ and ‘position-taking’ as well as its institutional structure and social relations that combine to render the discipline ‘institutionally white’. We also consider, briefly, aspects of criminology’s relationship to race, racism and whiteness in the USA. The final part of the article makes the case for British criminology to engage in telling and narrating racisms, urging it to understand the complexities of race in our subject matter, avoid its reduction to class and inequality, and to pay particular attention to reflexivity, history, sociology and language, turning to face race with postcolonial tools and resolve.
  • A Parmar, R. Earle and C. Phillips, 'Race Matters in Criminology: Introduction to the Special Issue' (2020) 24 Theoretical Criminology Theoretical Criminology
    As race scholars and criminologists we are attuned to Du Bois’s (2007: 106) still meaningful injunction to ‘oppose this national racket of railroading to jails and chain gangs the poor, the friendless and the Black’. Yet we have become concerned that criminology seems rather inured to the long-standing and deeply entrenched patterns of race and criminal justice which characterize many high-income countries, and certainly England and Wales and Australia, which are the geographical focus of this Special Issue of Theoretical Criminology.
  • A Parmar, 'Policing Migration and Racial Technologies' (2019) 59 British Journal of Criminology 938
    The merger between familiar modes of policing with the impetus for migration control is reorganizing the racial politics of policing in unexpected ways. In the aim to decipher who is a citizen, who is a foreign national offender and who is eligible for deportation on the grounds of criminality, the role of criminal records agencies has expanded further into the work of policing, as have the collaborative working partnerships between immigration and the police. In this article, I discuss the findings from research, which examines the policing of migration in the United Kingdom, and specifically Operation Nexus, which brings together ordinary police work and migration control. I focus on how technologies of border control are imbricated with everyday police practices that are often influenced by race, thereby deepening the reach of racial technologies and their capacity to monitor and exclude racial others.
  • A Parmar, 'Policing Belonging: Race and Nation in the UK' in (ed), Race, Criminal Justice and Migration Control: Enforcing the Boundaries of Belonging (Oxford University Press 2018)
    This chapter considers what impact the police’s increased involvement in matters of migration control has for recent migrants and minority ethnic group citizens in the UK. In what ways (and with what consequences) do criminalization, migration, race and gender intersect when the police are asked to respond to migration and fears about migrants? Drawing on empirical research on police custody suites, the piece discusses how the policing of migration represents a tool by which the presence of minority ethnic groups in the UK is questioned, and the wider implications this has for who can(not) belong, and how these procedures are racialized. It also highlights the widening reach of the police whose work is increasingly carried out in conjunction with other actors including the members of the public who have been enlisted to surveil, report and help enforce migration policy. Conceptually, the paper brings to light the everyday forms of racism that are renewed through the policing of migrants while exploring how new and familiar modes of policing minority ethnic groups coalesce to racialize and ‘other’ those who are deemed not to belong, risky, criminal or a threat to social and economic resources.
  • A Parmar, 'Race at the Border ' in A Filli, R Powell, S Jahnsen (ed), Criminal Justice Research in an Era of Mass Mobility (Routledge 2018)
  • A Parmar, 'Intersectionality, Race and British Criminology: Are we there yet?' (2017) Theoretical Criminology 35
    Intersectionality is the study of overlapping social identities and related systems of oppression, discrimination and domination. From an intersectional perspective, aspects of a person’s identity, for example race, class and gender are understood to be enmeshed. To understand how systemic injustice operates and is produced, a multi-dimensional framework which captures how forms of oppression intersect and are shaped by one another, is necessary. Although the merits of an intersectional approach in criminology have been widely shown and discussed in US scholarship, within British criminology, there have been few analyses that have implemented an intersectional lens – either explicitly or implicitly. Correspondingly, close examination of the social construction of race within the criminal justice system has been largely absent in British criminology. In the following paper, I suggest that these two developments are co-constitutive – that British criminology’s unwillingness to engage with race has resulted in the reticence towards an intersectional approach and vice versa. This is both problematic and a missed opportunity. At a time when much criminological research convenes around the intersection of race, class, religion and gender, the absence of intersectional approaches and the lack of discussion about the racializing consequences of the criminal justice system serve to stymie meaningful debate and advancement of the field.
  • A Parmar, 'Race, Ethnicity and Criminal Justice: Refocussing the Criminological Gaze' in M Bosworth, C Hoyle and L Zedner (eds), Changing Contours of Criminal Justice (Oxford University Press 2016)
  • A Parmar, 'Configuring Ethnic Identities' in C Phillips and C Webster (eds), New Directions in Race, Ethnicity and Crime (Routledge 2014)
  • A Parmar, 'Racism, Ethnicity and Crime' in M Tonry, S. Buceris (ed), The Handbook of Crime, Ethnicity and Immigration (Oxford University Press 2014)
  • A Parmar, 'Race, Ethnicity and Criminal Justice' in A Hucklesby and A Wahidin (eds), Criminal Justice (Oxford University Press 2013)
  • A Parmar, 'Stop and Search in London: Counter-Terrorist or Counter-Productive?' (2011) Policing and Society 369
    The principle of ‘reasonable suspicion’ aims to prevent the abuse of the police power to stop, search and arrest and to increase accountability. The lack of a ‘reasonable suspicion’ requirement in stop and search under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 generated controversy and demands for legislative reform. Questions were raised about whether counter-terrorist policing efforts under s44 were effective of merely compromising civil liberties and sanctioning ‘ethnic profiling’. Drawing on observations of stop and search operations, interviews with police and people in London, this paper examines the implementation, experience and perception of s44 from the perspective of police and policed. The paper contends that the spectre of terrorism has legitimated unfair policing  both conceptually and practically  and ethnic minority communities have become suspect and potential intelligence sources. This is inherently problematic, generating a binary framework of expectations which are intangible and contradictory in pursuing human security. Ethnic minority communities have been criminalised, reified in reference to their religious
  • B Bowling, A Parmar and C Phillips, 'Policing Minority Ethnic Communities' in T Newburn (ed), Handbook of Policing (Willan 2008)
  • M Eisner and A Parmar, 'Doing Criminological Research in Ethnically and Culturally Diverse Contexts' in R King, E Wincup (ed), Doing Research on Crime and Justice (Oxford University Press 2007)
  • A Parmar and A Sampson, 'Evaluating Domestic Violence Initiatives' (2007) British Journal of Criminology 671
    This paper critiques the approach of identifying ‘best practice’ projects and discusses the problem with simply transferring projects into different contexts. The argument is illustrated by explaining the evaluation process of three domestic violence projects which all had the same aim, which was to reduce domestic violence. The evaluated projects all delivered advocacy programmes and were located in disadvantaged areas in the United Kingdom. A more suitable evaluation approach is proposed whereby practice principles are transferred rather than projects and this is presented in the form of a ‘practice model'

Research programmes

Research projects

Research Interests

race, criminal justice, sociology of policing, stop and search, intersectionality, borders and race, life history methodologies, minority ethnic youth and criminalization 

Research projects