Suspicious minds and suspicioning: constructing suspicion during policework

Dr Ross Hendy1

1Monash University

Exploring how officers use suspicion provides opportunities for us to understand police officer decision-making. Drawn from participant observation and interviews of front-line first response officers from New Zealand and South Australia, this research reveals how officers apply situational “tests” to assess the circumstances or actions they observe before deciding to initiate an encounter. Officers weighed up whether the circumstances were harmful, contrary to law, or socially acceptable. This process is conceived as suspicioning. The findings present a new perspective to understanding police officer motivations before initiating police-citizen encounters. Moreover, as the first ethnographic cross-national research of officers from New Zealand and South Australia, it provides a rare comparative glimpse of Antipodean policing.


Ross Hendy is a Lecturer in Criminology at Monash University. His research involves the study of police officers from Australia, England, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden.


Dec 10 2021