Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Policing the Borders Within

Dr. Ana Aliverti

Dr Ana Aliverti

Director of the Criminal Justice Centre, School of Law


For some time, there have been significant efforts within policing to bring various enforcement agencies to work closer together, under the ‘multiagency’ model. Since 2012, the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement, and its operational arm, the Immigration Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) team, and various police forces around the UK have strengthened joint work, under the remit of Operation Nexus. Nexus aimed at bringing together operational and intelligence resources to accurately identify crime suspects who are non-British nationals and assess the appropriate course of action. Despite the scale of the operation and its implications for policing and for those subject to state coercion, there has been no independent evaluation of this initiative. This is precisely the knowledge gap that the project aimed to fill.

What prompted you to engage with this policy/project?

My work examines the growing intersections between the criminal justice system and immigration enforcement. I have conducted various projects on the criminal courts about the legal impact of citizenship and migration status on judges’ decision making. Yet, citizenship status plays a key role in pre-charge decisions, often made by police officers. Given increased inter-agency cooperation at such stage, I was interested in exploring how immigration and police officers negotiate whether to charge the person with a criminal offence or pursue an administrative sanction -removal or deportation. That is, the formal and informal considerations taken into account to reach a decision on individual cases.

Where did you hear about the opportunity to engage with policy, and who did you contact?

I first engaged with the Director of Impact in my department who also put me in touch with the Research Impact Manager at RI&S, Stephanie Seavers and then Carolyn Sylvester.

What support did you receive, and from whom?

Stephanie and Carolyn provided a wealth of support and feedback and helped me think creatively about policy engagement within a very politically sensitive and socially controversial area of research and policy. Thanks to this support, I secured various impact related funding at Warwick (including the Warwick Impact Fund and the ESRC IAA) as well as from my department. Such funding supports a range of activities, including some parts of the substantial research I conducted with immigration and police officers, and bespoke policy briefs which I presented to managers.

How does policy engagement impact the rest of your work?

I think engaging with policy makers and managers give me the opportunity to appreciate the multiple and conflicting demands that they face and how they scale down to frontline staff who are ultimately those making decisions on an everyday basis about people. It widened my understanding of their work and their ethical and professional dilemmas.

What advice would you give to other academics when engaging with policy and policymakers?

Engaging with policy makers in controversial and sensitive areas of policy, such as migration and crime, is challenging. Often policy circles are not amenable to academics -particularly lawyers!- given our critical stance towards their work. It thus takes time to tune the message, language and means of communication, so that our work can be heard and understood, and to build relationships that can inspire trust. Such works requires at time navigating very tricky ethical questions and politics.

Find out more: