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ANZPAA's new CEO Tracey Green is spreading the word on the value of of using research to improve real-world policing.

Tracey Green feels like she has come home. Not to the place of her birth, but to her policing roots.

The former English police officer, who switched to academia in 1998, is the new CEO of the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA).

Although her academic career was broadly related to policing, Dr Green says she is delighted to be working for an organisation dedicated to promoting and improving real-world policing.

And she’s keen to reach out and increase engagement with frontline police in Australia and New Zealand.

“One of the challenges is trying to get a broader group of people interested in the work we do,” she says. “Because there’s a lot of really useful information there that anyone with a police email can access.”

ANZPAA was established in 2007. The work of its 30 staff is overseen by a board of Police commissioners from each jurisdiction in Australia and New Zealand and the chief police officer from the ACT (Australian Capital Territory). The National Institute of Forensic Science was amalgamated into ANZPAA in 2008.

The result has been an impressive archive of material that ranges from the hands-on to the theoretical, from professional standards and forensics to recruitment and climate change.

“We research, but we also do some really practical work,” Dr Green says. For example, a common approach to disaster victim identification and incident command principles for “inter-operability”, such as deploying across the Tasman, “so we are all using the same language”.

She notes that there are a “massive range of matters on the horizon” that will challenge policing as we know it. A short version of the list includes extreme weather events caused by climate change, the management of driverless and autonomous vehicles and the emergence of trends such as changes in the way people are protesting, far-right extremism and digital AI.

An example of ANZPAA’s responsive ethos is a recently completed guide for police on spiritual and religious diversity covering activities such as conducting interviews, dealing with death and taking samples. “That kind of work is really important because it is setting policing in a good position to not make mistakes in that area.”

New Zealand plays a significant role in ANZPAA, says Dr Green, and a lot of people are looking to Aotearoa for best practice at the moment.

“New Zealand can make advances because they don’t have the added challenge of working across both federation and state authorities. You have the capacity to drive change in a more straightforward way.”

There’s no doubt, she says, that policing worldwide is struggling to meet recruitment targets. Some of this was because of a negative response to the images of police doing a range of different duties in response to the Covid-19 crisis, but ANZPAA was working to unpack the broader impacts on the labour market.

A lot of work was going into what would make policing a career of choice for the next generation.

“What is Gen Z going to be looking for? The environment is important to young people, the technology they use and work-life balance. Will we employ everyone through the same route, or will we have experts come straight in as analysts, for example?”

Dr Green joined police as a cadet “to avoid having to work at the local steel works”. She was with Northumbria police in Newcastle and Sunderland for 22 years investigating serious crime, including homicides, drugs and police corruption.

She says she would never have left the police if she hadn’t had the opportunity of a three-year secondment to the Goulburn Police Academy in New South Wales in 1998.

That experience led to more opportunities, including 18 months in Indonesia at the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement (JCLEC) with the United Nations, and her appointment as executive dean with the Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences at Charles Sturt University. She also worked on a PhD and completed her thesis, Becoming a Police Academic: From Practitioner to Educator, in 2015. She dedicated it to her parents with the words: “Whoever would have thought?”

She was the first member of her family to go to university. Part of her motivation for the thesis, which was based on her own experience, was to offer advice and encouragement for other officers who might transition to academia and research in policing.

“Where my study has been useful is where it can be applied to navigate the landscape and to recognise the value that research, and best practice, can bring to policing.
To be able to argue for funding and resourcing, you have to be able to evaluate what you do and have a body of evidence to argue your case.”

Unfortunately, she says, a lot of ANZPAA’s best work is not reaching a wide enough audience. She wants to change that and refers to recent work in the E-Scan and Policing Innovator projects, which showcase work nominated by member jurisdictions.

“If your police are doing something innovative, let us know. We want to share good practice. A lot of our work is with more senior people in police, but when
we do specific bits of work, such as in road safety or forensics, we need advice and expertise from people on the ground.”

To find out more about the work of ANZPAA, visit the website, Anyone with a police email address can log in and access material on the site.

The 2022 ANZPAA Police Conference, being held in Melbourne from November 8-9, is on the theme of Navigating the Next Generation of Policing.

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