Youth crime is out of control in Victoria. What is the Government and the Courts doing to curb the current crime pandemic? Absolutely nothing.
The Community Advocacy Alliance Inc. (CAA) warned of this almost nine years ago. Sadly, our warning was ignored.
People in Victoria do not feel safe from youth gangs and young, aggressive, violent, offenders. Violent home invasions, carjackings and theft of cars in endemic and serious assaults, often involving knives, have become commonplace.
How can this blight on society be curbed?
Firstly, the idiocy of raising the age of criminality to fourteen must be abandoned. It is ideology overriding common sense.
Secondly, the Judiciary must adopt a more realistic regime on penalising youth criminal behaviour. Repeatedly bailing young offenders without imposing strict, enforced conditions is lunacy. Curfews and electronic tracking must be immediately introduced. Prohibiting contact with co-accused is also necessary to break the cycle of peer pressure. Home detention instead of jail is a viable option with an exception to allow attendance at school which must be mandatory.
Thirdly, a proactive regime of crime prevention is required. Making arrests is reactive not proactive.
Victoria Police, as part of its mandate, is required to fight, reduce and prevent crime.
In 1989 Victoria Police introduced a Police in Schools (PISP) Program.
This program was delivered by police trained for the purpose.
PISP – The aims of the program were:
to reduce the incidence of crime in society;
to develop a better relationship between police and youth in the community;
to create in young people an understanding of the police role in the structure of society;
to extend the concept of the crime prevention into the Victorian school system;
to equip young people with the necessary skills to avoid dangerous and threatening situations.
Along with these specific aims, behavioural objectives were set, and after participation in the program, young people were able to:
demonstrate the values, responsibilities and obligations current society deems valuable;
state the consequences of a person’s actions regarding unlawful behaviour;
demonstrate sufficient self-esteem and skill to avoid or reduce and delay the uptake of illicit drugs and resist engaging in anti-social behaviour;
engage in positive interactions and consultation with police members:
state the basic role of police and the legal system in Victoria.
In order to achieve the above aims and objectives, the program delivered a core structure of seven themes, namely:
the role of police in society;
the legal system;
rights, rules and responsibilities;
consequences of our actions;
keeping ourselves and others safe;
drug and alcohol education;
In a reintroduced PISP there should be three further themes added:
domestic violence avoidance;
road traffic safety;
All of these ten themes would closely interlink with the school curriculum thus enhancing the relevance of the program to the school community and the learning of the young people concerned.
Students, following their participation in the PISP, were able to:
demonstrate the values, responsibilities and obligations current society deems valuable;
state the consequences of a person’s actions regarding unlawful behaviour;
demonstrate sufficient self-esteem and skill to say no to drug abuse and other antisocial behaviour;
engage in positive interactions and consultation with police members;
state the basic role of police and the legal system in Victoria;
develop a better understanding between police and youth in society;
gain an understanding of the police role in the structure of society;
be equipped with the necessary skills to avoid dangerous and threatening situations.
The PISP was a resounding success as confirmed by an academic review conducted by Monash University, the results released in 2004.
Where the PISP operated there was a sharp reduction in graffiti, other acts of vandalism, petty crime and anti-social behaviour. Violent home invasions, carjacking and serious assaults were unknown or very rare.
Many teachers reported that those in their charge were more respectful of them, each other, and were better behaved in class and easier to teach. Many teachers also reported that they felt safer in the school environment.
Curbing disruptive behaviour in classes also ensured the education of students wanting to learn was not interfered with. This was and is an important consideration. The current youth lawlessness also contributes to the drop in literacy standards in our education system, as this lawlessness inevitably seeps into schools.
In 2006 the then Chief Commissioner, Nixon, in an act of proactive policing vandalism, abolished the program after an internal review reported the program was producing excellent results but was poorly managed.
The CAA demands the Government immediately address the youth crime issues by:
Abandoning the move to raise the age of criminality.
Requiring the Judiciary to adopt a more realistic regime on penalising youth criminal behaviour.
Requiring the Victoria Police to reintroduce a PISP and properly resource this Program.
If no action is taken, it will be inevitable police will have to be stationed in schools to maintain law and order, enabling schools to function. A reintroduced PISP is by far the better option as part of the education process.
We, the citizens of Victoria, have had enough of juvenile crime.
Youth Crime is now at epidemic proportions, and our leaders are indulging in severe hand-wringing while applying Statistical interpretation spin trying to deflect blame.
A byproduct of this problem is a 12-year-old has murdered her carer. That murder is a direct consequence of ideological values trumping pragmatic actions – the 12-year-old should have been in secure care.
The girl had run away 275 times in three years, and nobody was clever enough to put her in secure care to protect her.
The CAA has long been warning of this totally predictable outcome, first identified by the CAA nearly a decade ago. Our so-called leaders are unashamedly changing the measuring parameters to cover their ineptitude.
Different labels will not modify behaviour.
The missing link in this issue, as with others, is Leadership. Without competent leadership, this, like many other problems, will not be addressed in any meaningful way – they can just blame the parents, a motherhood statement to deflect from their ineptitude.
As reported in the Melb. Age 22/12/23, data released by the Crime Statistics Agency on Thursday shows crimes committed by minors have reached a nine-year high, with those aged 10 to 18 overrepresented in robberies, burglaries, and theft.
The strategy, it seems, is that raising the age of criminal responsibility will solve the problem because children under 14 are too young to understand they are breaking the law. Technically probably true, but they certainly know right from wrong.
Of course, this strategy will solve the problem (statistically) overnight.
The Statistics Agency will produce glowing figures for the seat polishers to crow about, having achieved a dramatic fall in youth-related crime offending. Statistics don’t lie, but when it comes to statistics, there are lies, damn lies and statistics.
This strategy is cold comfort for Victims of a home invasion, as categorising young miscreants’ actions as not criminal is only a label and will not drive behavioural change. However, more than likely it will increase the offending because young people will know, there are no consequences. “If I break into a house, I can’t get into trouble.”
Expert advice quoted in the article says it all,
“It was ‘ludicrous’ to think that a 12-year-old could be held legally responsible for their actions.”
This is the type of ideological rubbish ‘Expert advice’ that has got us to where we are now.
Children of this age know right from wrong; however, they may not fully understand the consequences of their actions, which is a far cry from not understanding what actions are criminal (wrong).
From a very young age, we teach children not to do things, explaining and sometimes by controlled demonstration, the consequences if they ignore our advice. Don’t put your hand close to the fire, or you will get burnt. Do not cross the road without looking, etc. By the time a child is about 6, they have grasped right from wrong in a rudimental sense.
So, we are prepared and accept that teaching children life skills is acceptable and desirable, but we want to give them a free pass regarding criminality.
Children are taught through consequences that they understand. Still, often, no more is needed than a reprimand to achieve complaint behaviour that is in their best interest. A Police caution, for example.
This leads to a major part of the solution – education.
Children’s criminality is a learned phenomenon, not a lack of understanding of right from wrong. There are simple solutions if we are serious about making changes and saving many young lives from being wasted.
Behaviour is taught, not hard-wired into their cognisance.
Essentially, support parents rather than blame them by introducing a formal learning program to address and correct the cognisance of young people using the group learning approach only available within the school system.
The calls for more support services are just that, calls, and are the same calls echoed every time the statistics on youth offenders are released year in and year out.
Simply changing the age of criminal responsibility will not change or reduce any criminal behaviour. The children will still commit robberies (Home invasions), burglaries (Home invasions when nobody is home), and theft (Predominantly from other children).
So, education is first, and the second part is to introduce appropriate consequences.
Police say a “core group of 207 recidivist offenders” are responsible for most of the crimes, with officers arresting 82 youth offenders more than 10 times over the reporting period.
The second part of a strategy to dramatically reduce offending is to prioritise proactive work rather than worry about diversions after they are caught.
The courts have a major role to play, and the above paragraph clearly demonstrates the Court’s failure to contribute to modifying the status quo.
How can anybody expect a juvenile to stop offending if they are arrested over 12 months more than 10 times? When does the penny drop, they are currently incorrigible.
After once, twice or thrice, there is an irrefutable argument that they need to be secured to,
Protect them from themselves.
Demonstrate that their actions come with consequences.
Protect potential victims.
Stop rationalising their behaviour.
There is an argument for a mandatory three-strike rule if the Judiciary declines to show leadership and facilitate consequences rather than threats.
Diversions for repeat offenders mean they are not working, so why persist with them?
The argument that the CAA has proffered for those who succumb to drug problems can be transposed into the youth area.
It is not how long they are in detention, but the fact that they are, is the key.
All the negative arguments put forward in opposition to detention are based on the assumption of the impact of months or years; we propose weeks of structured detention, not a week-long party doing nothing, their favourite pastime, apart from committing crimes.
What is misunderstood and not considered is that time for young people moves at a far slower pace than it does as we age, so we cannot properly transpose issues to young people measured in adult time or values.
A week or two in detention will achieve the desirable outcome. They will not be hardened into criminality but will cause a hiatus in their social networking that forms part of their criminal activity.
They can also be exposed to discipline.
No ability to connect with peers for a week or so will cause the peers to move on, and the perpetrator has broken the nexus, enabling them to shake bad behaviour and influences, one of the big drivers of juvenile crime.
In two weeks, the average social network of a young person can change multiple times.
The CAA implores those of influence to change course for the good of young people and focus on education and developing appropriate consequences if there is any hope of achieving a breakthrough to reduce destroying young lives, let alone the lives of some of their victims.
All current efforts have failed and discontinuing the Police in Schools program a decade or more ago removed one of the key pillars, education.
The other major contributor is applying the failed theory of Restorative Justice to the juvenile sector. A concept that rewards bad behaviour and moves responsibility to the victims.
As a senior Police executive was quoted as saying,
“When population is considered, Victoria still has its second-lowest crime rate at any point over the past decade”.
That statement, ‘weasel words’, perhaps says it all, considering the population, it seems, is only an afterthought, where they should be a critical consideration in prioritising action to resolve the problem. It is deeply worrying that the population is so poorly considered as a priority by the Police.
No more ‘weasel words’, but identifiable and realistic actions.
It is time to show the mettle, not the hollow, repetitive words and statistics currently in vogue.
Victoria; do not underestimate the importance of the announcement by Chief Commissioner Patton of a Police in Schools Program (PISP) (Herald Sun 24/3/21).
This change in the policing approach is very significant and will have a positive impact on the lives of us all.
The failure of former Police Chief Commissioners to re-implement this important Policing strategy is in no small part responsible for the increased crime rates in past years, particularly in serious crimes committed by juveniles.
The reintroduction of a structured PISP has been the cornerstone and the basis for the formation of the Community Advocacy Alliance Inc. (CAA) which I have the privilege to chair.
As a group we have worked for six years for this outcome and we unreservedly congratulate Chief Commissioner Patton for reintroducing this program.
It is ironic that this program originated in Victoria and was so successful it was taken up and continues to operate in all other States and Territories.
Former Chief Commissioner Nixon shut the PISP down and every Chief Commissioner that followed her failed to grasp the importance of the program with former Chief Commissioner Ashton actively engaging in trying to thwart attempts by the CAA to establish a PISP using Police veterans.
There were many other very encouraging strategies announced by CCP Patton today. The engagement that CCP Patton has established with the CAA will now ensure that many other strategies both proven from the past and new will be ventilated and considered by him.
Through the CAA the community now has a much louder voice.
We are now entering a new phase of Policing that serves the people of Victoria with a service that the people can influence.
The news of four deaths in a week is by any stretch a pandemic of epic proportions, and it is very unlikely that this will be the end of it, it could get much worse.
Today there have been apprehensions expressed echoing what concerns the CAA, that Judicial Personnel Management (JPM) is at the core of many of these unfortunate outcomes, and has left many other Police in a very unhealthy and perilous mental state.
JPM is describing a procedure whereby Judicial processes are used to remove any member who for whatever reason is perceived to be a problem. It is too common that very weak poorly investigated disciplinary or criminal Briefs are, ’given a run’, through internal disciplinary processes or courts where a conviction is not the major objective, but the removal of the member is.
Like every other member or veteran, we are very dismayed at the terrible blight that is descending on Policing. There is no doubt this has been some years in the making hence our concern it will get worse.
The CAA, although having some trained Peer Support Officers in the group, has at least a number of very senior retired police who have substantial experience. The independence from VicPol and the very nature of the former members in the group may be able to help members.
The CAA appeals to any current or former members who are struggling with mental health issues to contact us.
We were never established as a welfare unit, nor do we intend to be one, but as we would expect of every other member to reach out to a distressed colleague, so should we.
“We would rather sit with you for as long as it takes to listen to what you’re going through than fifteen minutes listening to your eulogy.”
If you need to contact us via Facebook, LinkedIn or via caainc.org.au we are here.
The Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) is developing a volunteer Police Veterans in Schools Program (PVISP) similar to the discontinued Police In Schools program (PSIP).
We are inviting expressions of interest from former members of Victoria Police who would like to be considered for this project.
Although previous classroom and PSIP experience are desirable, it is not essential as we will be developing a training program for volunteers and our curriculum is well into development and should be completed in the coming weeks.
It is anticipated that Veterans would only need to dedicate one or two half days a week, and their times and commitments would be negotiated directly with the School/s.
We are confident that the experience of life and Policing that Veterans uniquely posses are a valuable resource that can make the future for children and the community more harmonious.
We propose to have a pilot up and running for the later terms of this school year. Every effort will be made to connect Veterans with schools in their local area.
The PSIP program was one of the most rewarding and enjoyable functions of Policing, and few members left the program unless unavoidable.
You can now enjoy that experience and contribute to community safety again.
For further information and your eligibility, or to express interest, contact Ivan Ray CEO, CAAInc on email@example.com
The PVISP has ticked off on several issues and progression is excellent.
We now have volunteers coming on board to ensure the success of the program.
Dr Ray Shuey has volunteered to manage the measuring of the project as it develops, ensuring we can as necessary adjust the program to achieve maximum benefits.
Michael Grosvero JP FCPA will manage the finances of the project to ensure compliance and best practice. Working with Dr Shuey, they will develop budgets and projected income demands to ensure the ongoing viability of the project.
The ACNA has accepted the CAA for Registration as a Charity.
The Australian Tax Office has issued the CAA with a Notice of Endorsement for Charity tax concessions effective from the 22nd of August 2019.
To date, the CAA has operated primarily on funds donated by the Board members, however, to augment this we have launched a Go-Fund-me page that has already started to attract donors, and although we do not anticipate that this will be our major funding source, it will provide basic funding in the development stage of the project. Future funding will be sourced by developing partnerships with appropriate entities. Such entities will be carefully screened before accepting their support.
Curriculum and associated matters
As previously announced Peter Jarvis, MOET, Dip Ed, B.Arts, Dip Police Studies, Dip Management, has joined us as our Educational Adviser and he is well on the way to completing the Curriculum and associated material for the project including the training of PVISP Operatives. He is confident that the completion of the necessary material is imminent.
We welcome to the Board retired Detective Superintendent Frank Byrne and retired Chief Inspector Robin Bailey. These two appointees are critical to the project. They are both well qualified and experienced in this type of project and will work closely with our Educational Adviser to get the program off the ground. With one based in Geelong and the other in the East, they can coordinate over wider areas. These members will also be involved in the selection process for suitable former Police members to deliver the program.
All 1900 Primary Schools have been invited to submit expressions of interest to be considered for the PVISP program. This exercise will determine the size of the market we need to service, and although the invitations were only circulated on the 13th of June Replies have already started.
Former Police participation
Locating and inviting former Police to participate is somewhat more difficult as there is no reliable database available so we will be initially relying on social media but as soon as we have sufficient funds we propose to run advertisements in print media to let the former members know of the project. We have already secured several volunteers, but we are realists and understand that we need many more.
We are currently negotiating to Insure the volunteers as ‘Voluntary workers’ We expect that currently, we will not be able to cover this cost which we would anticipate is substantial, however, the Policy will be negotiated to a stage so that it can be activated at short notice.
The identity and branding of this project for uniforms etcetera is currently under consideration by a partner organisation, and as soon as this matter is resolved, advice will be provided, and the design and style of a uniform will be undertaken.
The Project will be launched at a time to be determined, but it will be when we are at a stage that a tangible function of the project can be demonstrated.
“The Hub”, is a designated building designed to house several Police related Not for Profit organisations and critically to provide a purpose-built base for the operation of the Retired Police Peer Support Program.
The Retired Police Association (RPA) Peer Support Program (PSP) has only been operating for less than two years and has cobbled together sufficient funds to train up 41 Retired (PSP) staff who operate purely on a voluntary basis throughout Victoria and also cover their own and clients out of pocket expenses.
In this very short time frame, the group are looking after 400 ex-police varying in need from the company to serious mental health issues including depression, PTSD and addictions to gambling, drugs and alcohol.
The group are finding the same experience as the Department of Veterans Affairs where issues, particularly of PTSD, are manifesting later in life.
The CAA has recruited the recently Retired Deputy Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Mike O’Meara who has extensive experience in administering the Psych services of Defence to advise the CAA on the administration of these initiatives and to assist the RPA.
Based on world practises, we can assume that fifteen per cent of ex-members will need some assistance with mental health issues after they cease employment with VicPol.
This probably is replicated with other emergency services, particularly the Ambulance Service. To say that the RPA has seen but the tip of the iceberg is a statement made in fact. It is not unreasonable to warn the Government of a tsunami of mental health issues for ex-police that is not far away and the early intervention of a Peer Support Program may lessen the impact and cost when it arrives.
Funding is a pressing necessity with the program only having sufficient funds to see them through to mid-2017. Apart from the meagre funds of the RPA, the group have received funding from the Police Association to assist with training however the financial viability of the program for the long term must be addressed relatively urgently to allow the practitioners to get on with the job rather than worrying about funding. I am at a loss as to how PSP has been so successful to date given that they have achieved their success on such a minuscule budget and what they have achieved and is testament to the dedication and ingenuity of the Retired members running the program.
Of a much more pressing necessity is the establishment of ”The Hub” facility which ideally will provide suitable accommodation for the PSP operatives and their administrative support but also house Clinicians to back up the program and act as a referral for some of the more dire cases handled by the PSP.
One of the problems is the stigma either real or perceived that people suffering mental health issues experience.
To that end, we propose to establish a commercial coffee shop as the front door of the services. A space people needing help can attend without fear of stigma. I am important that the Coffee shop is a commercial venture catering for the public to assist with the anonymity of people to access the resources.
The PSP has identified the security of the PSP operatives as a major concern as they are not permitted to attend private dwellings and currently their only option is to meet at local coffee shops. This is proving unsatisfactory by not offering the clients some confidentiality but also by the lack of security should a client have an episode.
We have identified a surplus Government building on the corner of Coventry and StKilda Road, South Bank, adjacent to Victoria Barracks. The building has been vacant for many years and originally housed the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatients Psych Service.
We understand that the building has either been or is in the process of being transferred from the Commonwealth to the State ownership and we understand that part of the ownership process is a condition that the Veterans Art created as part of the rehabilitation within DVA has a permanent display gallery.
We have not inspected the building, but it is highly probable that the needs of the “The Hub” could co-exist with the Gallery. Until we have access to the building, we will not know the suitability.
The concept of “The Hub” requires the ability to develop a commercial coffee shop so location is important, good public transport and car access is essential and sufficient room to provide administration for RPA PSP, Blue Light Vic., CAA, Blue Ribbon, Police Legacy, Operation New Start, Police in Schools, Police Games Administration and clinical services to support RPA PSP.
We would be interested in accessing any alternate surplus Government Buildings preferably reasonably close to but not necessarily in the City.
Bringing all of these organisations together will have the bonus of improving their capacity to perform their various NFP functions and also add to the anonymity of ex-members going to the facility to seek help or undergo treatment.
It will also allow for easier access to these organisations by VicPol and the Government.
We would be pleased to discuss any options in relation to this initiative.
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