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Crime linkage practice in New Zealand

Matt Tonkin (Department of Criminology, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)
Martin Joseph Weeks (New Zealand Police, Hastings, New Zealand)

Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice

ISSN: 2056-3841

Article publication date: 2 February 2021

Issue publication date: 19 March 2021




The purpose of this paper is to understand (i) how crime linkage is currently performed with residential burglaries in New Zealand, (ii) the factors that promote/hinder accurate crime linkage and (iii)whether computerised decision-support tools might assist crime linkage practice.


A total of 39 New Zealand Police staff completed a questionnaire/interview/focus group relating to the process, challenges, products and uses of crime linkage with residential burglary in New Zealand. These data (alongside four redacted crime linkage reports) were subjected to thematic analysis.


The data clearly indicated wide variation in crime linkage process, methods and products (Theme 1). Furthermore, a number of factors were identified that impacted on crime linkage practice (Theme 2).

Research limitations/implications

Future research should develop computerised crime linkage decision-support tools and evaluate their ability to enhance crime linkage practice. Also, researchers should explore the use of crime linkage in court proceedings.

Practical implications

To overcome the barriers identified in the current study, greater training in and understanding of crime linkage is needed. Moreover, efforts to enhance the quality of crime data recorded by the police will only serve to enhance crime linkage practice.

Social implications

By enhancing crime linkage practice, opportunities to reduce crime, protect the public and deliver justice for victims will be maximised.


The practice of crime linkage is under-researched, which makes it difficult to determine if/how existing empirical research can be used to support ongoing police investigations. The current project fills that gap by providing a national overview of crime linkage practice in New Zealand, a country where crime linkage is regularly conducted by the police, but no published linkage research exists.



The research described in this article was supported by a grant from the British Academy (SRG18R1\180026). The researchers would also like to acknowledge the support of New Zealand Police and all participants who gave so generously of their time.


Tonkin, M. and Weeks, M.J. (2021), "Crime linkage practice in New Zealand", Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 63-76.



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