Law & Justice

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  • (2022) Hopkins, Tamar
    This thesis investigates the meaning of racial profiling and its application in Australia. Drawing on the conceptualisation developed by Epp, Maynard-Moody and Haider-Markel that racial profiling is the disproportionate use of unjustified police power against racial and ethnic minorities, this thesis asks: does racial profiling exist in Australia? I develop three methodologies to answer this question. In the first, I apply four concepts developed by Canadian courts to existing Australian cases to determine whether they enable the disclosure of racial profiling. For the second strategy, I conduct a survey of 981 people from Victoria, Australia who the police have subjected to a vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist stop. Drawing again on Epp, Maynard-Moody and Haider-Markel, I classify their experiences into variables that, through regression analysis, I can use examine whether police engage in racial profiling. My third strategy, using the same survey data, tests whether police more frequently use particular tactics on specific racial groups. If so, these tactics could be said to correspond to racial profiling under a test devised by Canadian judge Morden JA. in R v Brown [2003] OJ 1251. The result of each strategy discloses the existence of racial profiling in Australia. Firstly, I find that racial profiling is likely to have impacted 12 Australian cases I examine through the lens of the Canadian common law framework. Consequently, to make racial profiling more visible, this framework provides a useful guide for the development of police powers law in Australia. Secondly, I find strong evidence (p<0.05) that police in Victoria subject people of Aboriginal, African, Pasifika and Middle-Eastern/Muslim appearance to unjustified police stops and unjustified post-stop conduct more frequently than white people. This finding demonstrates that pro-active policing methodologies in Victoria are racially discriminatory. My third finding is that there is strong exploratory evidence (p<0.05) that police use 12 tactics against specific racial groups more frequently than white people. These findings start to reveal the institutionalised mechanisms that police use to target racial groups in Australia. As the first study of this kind in Australia, this thesis makes a major contribution to understanding racial profiling in Australia and how it may be evidenced.