CALL TO ACTION – YOUTH CRIME

CALL TO ACTION – YOUTH CRIME

30th Jan 2024

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;
  • personal development.

In a reintroduced PISP there should be three further themes added:

  • anti-bullying strategies;
  • 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.

JUVENILE BAIL, SHOULD WE, OR SHOULDN’T WE?

JUVENILE BAIL, SHOULD WE, OR SHOULDN’T WE?

As the debate over Bail laws for juveniles rages, the proponents on the side of the ‘relaxation of laws’, ‘for the good of the child’ have lost sight of reality.

The two concepts, ‘relaxation of laws’ and ‘for the good of the child’ is an oxymoron.

A sceptic may also conclude that this move is a cynical government strategy to show how the youth problem has diminished by excluding large numbers of the youngest cohort from the statistical criminal matrix, thereby solving the youth problem.

The problem, however, is the giant chasm between what these proponents preach and the reality the juvenile interprets.

Some time ago, the CAA met with the executives of a well-known and, up until that time, in our view, a highly respected major youth-focused charitable organisation to discuss the issues and strategies that might be co-jointly pursued to help young offenders.

In discussing the Police Cautioning program, we raised the concept that minor penalties could be applied to juveniles with consent and agreement from the child’s parents. For example, we suggested that the juvenile’s phone be surrendered for fourteen days or report to the police station to do chores, etc.

The response was akin to threatening juvenile offenders with purgatory as they exposed their agenda.

They were clearly and stridently opposed to the Police Cautioning Program and initiatives like the Police in Schools Program. Not that they could annunciate the problems with either.

It seemed they were motivated and basing their views on some ideological zealotry.

And of greatest surprise was their absolute lack of care for the child’s welfare and the approach of no consequences for unlawful behaviour or, for that matter, any plausible result for the child’s behaviour or meaningful action that may reduce the repetition of the behaviour.

How the child’s unlawful behaviour could be corrected, or the dangers to the child mitigated with no intervention were beyond a reasoned view.

They also could not identify a circumstance where a child should be incarcerated, whether in sentencing or on Bail.

The adverse risk to the children was obvious, but that the community must accept and tolerate this behaviour was outrageous.

Whoever is promoting the lifting of the age of criminal responsibility is tarred with the same brush of ignorance.

When a young person’s lousy behaviour escalates to violence against others, a substantial intervention of consequences must be applied to the child very quickly if the behaviour is to be modified.

Failure to do this is the cause of the current escalation in overall juvenile violent crime.

Some fundamental traits in immature young people are critical to expect to achieve behavioural change.

  • Time – Young people live in different time zones than adults, and as we age, we learn that an hour or a day for a mature adult, for a young person, would equate to a day or forever. This phenomenon translates into watering down dramatically the impact of the legal process on a child whose life has moved on substantially before consequences, if any, are applied.
  • Consequential outcomes of actions – Children may not consider the consequences of their actions and will continue to act violently until they do.

The current example of three young people pushing an elderly man fishing off a pier, falling some 5 meters into the sea, is an example. Thankfully, the old man who couldn’t swim was rescued by onlookers.

There would have been no rational thought from the youths that the consequences may lead to the death of the man.

  • Youth Bail – Excessive use of their right to Bail contributes markedly to our current problems. A youth released on bail gains bragging rights and believes they have beaten the charges. This alleged badge of honour escalates violent behaviour as associates are led to believe there will be no consequences for their violent behaviour either, so any deterrent effect on others is lost.

There must be an urgent review of the management of young offenders with an emphasis on consequences for unlawful behaviour.

That review must consider the matters we have raised and determine an efficient and appropriate system for managing young people.

The passionate argument of never incarcerating young people must be quashed as it is as essential to protect the community as it is to protect the child. Incarceration is a must if there is no viable alternative. We do not advocate incarcerating all young offenders but only when it is reasonably necessary, but all offenders must suffer some consequences.

The risks that can be argued opposing incarceration of ‘making the offender worse’ we differ ‘worse than what’. Violence in any form must be punished.  Assaults, carjacking and home invasions must be stamped out.

If there are issues with the detention system, then fix the system.

The current system appears broken, but that has more to do with activists fiddling with it for ideological reasons as the system, even with some failings, has historically served us well, or indeed better than it currently does.

Fiddling with the bail laws and the age of criminal responsibility are just that, tinkering around the edges without a holistic approach that would achieve meaningful outcomes.

Curfews and tracking devices for recidivist offenders are a ‘no brainer’.

The actual legislative changes to achieve better outcomes are relatively small. Changing the mindset of key players in the youth space might be more of a challenge; however, if their function was measured against benchmarks, instilling accountability with consequences into these functions, meaningful changes might be quicker than anticipated.

YOUTH CRIME AN AVOIDABLE CRISIS

YOUTH CRIME AN AVOIDABLE CRISIS

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.

Acknowledge and fix the problem.

YOUTH CRIME IS YOUR FAULT

YOUTH CRIME IS YOUR FAULT

The Herald Sun 19/12/23 again reports the burgeoning crime in this State, particularly serious youth crime.

They highlight the case of a 16-year-old boy implicated in 18 aggravated burglaries where cars were stolen in just over 5 weeks. The boy was charged with 48 offences in that time but was continually allowed to walk free by our legal system.

Other prolific offenders reported are,

  • A 13-year-old boy was charged with eight aggravated burglaries and four car thefts in the four weeks.
  • A 13-year-old boy was arrested four times and charged with four aggravated burglaries and five car thefts.
  • A 12-year-old accused of six robberies and an assault.
  • A 15-year-old charged with seven aggravated burglaries, five car thefts and a robbery.

Officers attached to Operation Trinity have made 2231 arrests since March, including 502 for aggravated burglaries and stealing vehicles.

The other 1729 arrests concerned what police described as “drug and other miscellaneous offences”.

And the loud response from those facilitating this outrageous behaviour is the same every time, ‘crickets’.

The Government and Opposition remain mute, the Courts and professionals in the youth field follow suit, and the only explanation falls to the Police.

The police are left with the glib line.

“Police say homeowners failing to take precautions to protect their property remained an issue.”

Obviously, designed to avoid criticising others, this line (we have heard often before) is disgraceful and explains why we are where we are, following closely on the experiences in Queensland and the NT.

As citizens, it is apparently our responsibility to address this issue, not the government officials we elect and pay with our taxes. Conveniently forgotten is that it is not us but the perpetrator who is committing the crime.

We wouldn’t need to lock things up so much if our government officials, law enforcement, and the justice system would address the root causes of crime and implement effective strategies to discourage young people from engaging in criminal behaviour. We need practical and evidence-based solutions, not just ideologically based theory that is destined to, and does continue to fail.

As it stands, the young offender experiences no significant incentives to stop committing crimes and are set free. Getting caught is no more than an inconvenience and part of the adrenaline rush. Having a Magistrate lecture them is the only penalty.

It is left to the Police to investigate, charge and take these offenders before the courts, securing convictions and then watch them walk out, thumbing their nose at the law only for them to repeat the same behaviour, ad infinitum.

A significant strategy working against reducing this problem is a foreboding bordering on paranoia by the responsible entities not to be blamed or admit to a failure.

Calls for a Royal Commission have been mumbled about, but that will not solve the problem as the track records of Royal Commissions are not that good at resolving problems. They are better equipped for fostering industries based on no empirical evidence, hoping, rather than determining, that the industries have the solution, and the exercise will take 3-5 years and cost us Millions for no appreciable return on that investment.

What is needed is leadership to implement accountabilities on entities to perform and achieve change by a no-blame approach, and the development of some basic pragmatic principles by which all entities adhere.

That will make some uncomfortable, but so be it; we want a result-based holistic approach that encompasses the Courts, the Police, Health, Corrections and Welfare Services, including NFPs, and organisations who work in this area.

We know that there are many who are ideologically opposed to concepts like personal accountability, but this type of ideology must not influence the solution to the problem because that is what has caused it.

The obsession with not sending young people to jail must stop. The ridiculous notion that jail will only make them worse begs the question, ‘worse than what’.

It is also incredible how certain sectors blame the Youth Detention centres as not fit for young people. We agree that they are not suitable for many young people, but they are suitable for securing violent juvenile thugs who pose a genuine and demonstrated risk to the community.

There is also the stupid notion that the Detention Centres themselves are the problem. An example is the Northern Territory, where a Royal Commission recommended the closure of the Don Dale Facility in Darwin. The physical building had little or no impact, it was the management regime of the place that failed dismally.

Like other Detention Centres the problem is not the building, it is the ineffective management of inmates, and we need to accept that some inmates are so incorrigible they need to be secured and restricted, not only for the good of the community, but, ironically, in the best interest of the convicted perpetrator and other inmates and staff.

The idiotically asinine belief permeating through our youth justice administration that perpetrators who continue to offend will be harmed by Detention is the first thing that must change because the reality is that avoiding saving them from themselves is irresponsible. How can they be so dumb?

The CCYP and Youth Justice have a lot to answer for as they are clearly asleep at the wheel or, more probably, are void of competent leadership that would have them both attentive and focused on these issues.

Their most notable output on these issues is ‘crickets’.

Immediate reform of the way recidivist juvenile offenders are treated in our criminal justice system, rather than excuses, is long overdue.

THE FALLIBILITY OF MISGUIDED IDEOLOGY

THE FALLIBILITY OF MISGUIDED IDEOLOGY

Youth crime is the victim of ideology that is so blinkered as to fail to achieve its original goal.

In the late 1990’s to 2012 a formidable politician, Robert Hulls, championed a concept called Restorative Justice.

A concept, ironically given its devout following in Victoria’s Judicial fraternity, that has not exactly achieved worldwide acclaim or even acclaim to any great degree Nationally.

For all its warm-fuzzy ideological appeal, the concept remains just a theory, and we are paying the penalty of having our Justice system hijacked by a theory that, in practice, has failed, hence the lack of acclaim.

Look no further than the juvenile crime statistics over the last two decades to see the abject failure. This era was preceded by a Victoria Police Policy of proactive policing targeting young people and building bridges. A policy that worked.

The definition of Restorative Justice published by RMIT, is clearly an ideological joke gone disastrously wrong, and sane people should never have allowed it to permeate the justice system as it currently has.

Restorative justice is a theory of justice that focuses on the harm caused by crime and wrongdoing to people, relationships and communities.

It provides a framework for addressing and preventing harm that moves beyond punishment towards healing. As a practice, restorative justice processes most commonly bring together people affected by harm in a safe, structured and facilitated way, to talk about what happened, how they were impacted and how the harm can be repaired or addressed. 

https://cij.org.au/opencircle/what-is-restorative-justice

It is a fat lot of good having victims, sometimes of horrendous crimes, being confronted in a congenial environment with the perpetrator for ‘a healing’; ‘a healing for who’?

Healing the perpetrator does nothing for the poor Victim who not only has to suffer the consequences of the crime but is then called up for ‘a healing’, not for them, but for the perpetrator.

That this process would somehow reduce the likelihood of the perpetrator reoffending is an academic fantasy.

One major failing is this theoretical concept has been interpreted by the judiciary and others as a process to assist perpetrators and perhaps turn their lives around. The operative word is, perhaps, because, to those who know and understand the psyche of the young, it is highly unlikely to achieve the desired outcome.

Juvenile offenders know only one concept, and that is their personal advantage as they see it, and the impact on anybody else is immaterial.

When juveniles from a particular cohort are charged and convicted by a court, the perpetrator perceives only two options. If they walk from the court, they have beaten the charge, or they can be sent to prison, a badge of honour to be bragged about.

Lawyers and the Judiciary might as well save the energy from dissertations directed at a convicted juvenile perpetrator as they explain how wrong the actions are and that a diversion will be their ‘last chance’. Rhetoric without consequences, they have no doubt heard many times, making the threat useless.

So, no matter what might be said or recorded or otherwise by the Court, if the perpetrator walks from Court, their bragging rights herald, ‘I won’, and will be broadcast loudly amongst their peers. That has a knock-on effect of impunity from any consequences, emboldening others to commit crimes.

The Court’s focus on the individual perpetrator is important, but the Court has an obligation to the broader community, particularly other young people likely to offend.

That leaves us with a system that rewards, not punishes criminality, in the perpetrator’s mind’. Any deterrent effect is disastrously lost on any peers of the perpetrator as they can demonstrate that no matter what they do, nothing happens.

If reparation was enforced on the juveniles and or their family, it would at least be a tangible deterrent.

The best option to reduce juvenile crime is to prevent it by reintroducing proactive programs like,

  • Blue Light Discos (Blue Light survives, but the discos have all but disappeared).
  • The Police in Schools Program, which ran very successfully in Victoria from 1969 until 2006. (The current iteration is similar in name only; the very effective Curriculum-based version is no longer used.)
  • Operation New Start was a program actively ensuring young people actually get to school.
  • Derby Hill – a Blue Light resource used as a school camp. Local Police could spend time with their local children in a school camp orientated to Policing. The camp has been disposed of.

Early structured connection of police with juveniles pays high dividends in reducing offending. All of these programs had one remarkable similarity. When each was introduced, there was an immediate reduction in local juvenile crime.

Another option to reduce the frequency and severity of juvenile crime is incarceration, particularly for repeat offenders—understandable consequences for society and the juvenile.

Unfortunately, there is only one option to reduce the frequency and severity of juvenile crime, and that is incarceration—understandable consequences, not for society but for the juvenile.

Jail is not the place for young people; neither is it appropriate or in their best interest for them to rape,  rob and pillage society.

Shorter sentences will be the answer because time for young people moves extremely slowly, so a month or two with a generous good behaviour incentive would be more effective than any extended period to avoid the risk of institutionalisation and create a break in the nexus the juvenile has with their current peers.

Jail per se is not the problem; it is how this resource is used. Threats alone will never succeed, and the resource needs to be used more creatively and effectively.

After a relatively short period, the perpetrator’s peers will move on without the juvenile, a good outcome that gives the juvenile the chance to start again.

While jail should not be a holiday home, the discipline and proper management of juveniles will help them.

If the problem is perceived to be the jail, then fix the jail.

It’s their liberty that has to be sacrificed. A month without access to a mobile phone would be a great start on the road to a crime-free life.

In serious cases, it is the juvenile offender’s liberty that must be sacrificed to protect the Juvenile and the Victims.

The reduction starts with creative and effective pro-active programs to reduce crime in the first place and then pragmatic and effective management of perpetrators to guide them from their current path.

This will ultimately save lives, predominantly of the perpetrators. Crime can be a fatal endeavour.

 

 

ARE WE BARKING MAD OR JUST PLAIN STUPID?

ARE WE BARKING MAD OR JUST PLAIN STUPID?

17th July 2023

Youth offending has been brought up again, this time by Chief Commissioner Shane Patton, who calls for exemptions to the impact of lifting the age of criminal responsibility from ten to thirteen.

However, this move from the Chief to fix an unrealistic situation created by the legislators will only complicate managing youth crime, making it more difficult for the police and potentially opening up opportunities for career-ending litigation should any police member break the new rules, even inadvertently.

It will not reduce criminality by this cohort but increase it, putting children and the community at further risk.

The changes rely on perceptions, not facts, and what may seem appropriate to police involved in an incident may well be rejected subsequently by a court. Who incidentally was not there when the incident occurred.

The process will become so complicated that police accoutrements (equipment carried by Police) will need to include a ‘Youth Criminal manual’ for each member to refer to.

“Stop the car chase, while I check the procedure; they may be children.”

The CAA has a long history of advocating for intervention at an earlier age to deter children from committing crimes, the proactive approach. We now accept that because of other factors outside the control of the police, the situation has deteriorated dramatically, and the impact on police resources is so severe by recidivist offenders, particularly in the youth cohort, reactive responses must be the priority until the situation stabilises.

We support and encourage the Chief Commissioner to redirect all proactive and support resources to the front line of youth crime. That includes all special interest groups within VicPol, irrespective of how important the people in these groups feel their work is, as well as suspending all training to free up training staff as well as students.

As the situation continues to deteriorate, a repose similar to a war footing must be adopted.

An influx of hundreds of extra police, their vehicles and other resources will lift dramatically the ability of Police to increase patrols.

This, however, cannot be used as a catalyst for police to absolve the function of Proactive policing permanently and must include a sunset clause.

The operation must have a monthly review of progress and, in the first instance, be for a period of six months.

The blame, however, for that deterioration must be placed squarely at the feet of the Judiciary. But as is often the case, the solution in part relies on the Police.

To succeed, the courts have to do their part, albeit they caused it.

The failure to rein in criminality amongst the youth is also not the fault of the pundit’s favourite whipping horse, their parents. Parents are effectively excluded from the Judicial process even if they are present.

The judiciary must accept the responsibility for the rising crime rate as the reins are in their hands, nobody else’s.

The judiciary is the final arbiter regarding the consequences a juvenile may face. Those consequences must be a consequence in the eyes of the juvenile, not the judiciary.

One thing is blatantly apparent; the youth do not respond well to the current raft of penalty options issued by the courts. The flaw is that the youths do not understand they are being punished; instead, they have been merely inconvenienced by going to court.

As soon as their case is finalised and they walk out of the court, in their minds, they have won, irrespective of what the Court says. They have bragging rights among their peers that they beat the charges, deterrent lost.

Irrespective of what the courts may impose other than detention, they have won.

We are not advocating detention in every case but certainly for recidivists, and the penalty must be realistic.

Young people operate in a different time zone to mature adults hence their tendency to live in the moment, so a detention penalty of a few days the first time, escalating by a few weeks for reoffending, would be the deterrent that will work without creating the hardened criminal that social engineers claim will be the outcome. Operating on youth time is the key.

The habit of governments following ideological whims to remove criticism by pretending they are addressing a problem is fraught with danger, the problem will not go away if the rules are relaxed.

This is a similar approach to the drug epidemic.

It is, however, a disgrace and a terrible indictment imposed on the youth and the victims.

What about the victims of youth actions that will no longer be criminal, but which severely damage the property or rights of these victims?  Will the Government compensate victims?

Will victims have access to Victims’ support, given the actions of this group are no longer criminal? Why should innocent victims bear the loss and burden?

Will insurers still honour policies when the damage is not a crime?

For example, a group of eleven-year-olds is actively stealing from shops.  Is the shop owner within their rights to physically detain the youths and recover his or her property, with force if necessary?  Young offenders know what they are doing is wrong.  Irrefutable evidence of this is that they flee when challenged.  If they did not know what they were doing was wrong, why would they flee?

Rather than resolving and working pragmatically to address the problem, the government has created a monster that will have unintended and dramatic adverse consequences.

The judiciary that created this problem with the support industries of the social manipulators that have evolved around the court system must be tasked with resolving it.

Rather than working pragmatically to address the problem, the government has created a monster that will have unintended and dramatic consequences.

There is no better demonstration of the many breakdowns of the Legal system than the approach to bail. We regularly hear that perpetrators commit serious offences while on Bail; the idiocy is that these same perpetrators regularly have their original bail extended, but you never hear that the Bail has been forfeited.

The net effect is that Bail does not act as a deterrent, part of its function.

Victim’s rights must be protected.  To do otherwise is to condone crime.

If we do not push back against this idiocy and the failure of the courts to accept responsibility for the loss of young lives, ‘ARE WE BARKING MAD OR JUST PLAIN STUPID?’

CRIME IS OUT OF CONTROL -WHY?

CRIME IS OUT OF CONTROL -WHY?

20th June 2023

The Community Advocacy Alliance CAA has been concerned for some time and repeatedly warned that failing to undertake effective preventative, proactive programs will lead to a worsening youth crime rate.

Our worst fears have been realised.

So concerned about Law enforcement’s direction, the CAA developed a Police Veterans in Schools Program with many Police coming out of retirement as volunteers to deliver the program. But this was thwarted by the then Chief Commissioner Ashton and the impact of COVID.

The current Chief Commissioner who supported a school’s program has been unable to implement it, and we wonder whether there was pushback from the Education Department or Union against the proposal. Or perhaps internal pressure by those Police with a limited mindset only capable of understanding the reactive approach as the role of Policing.

Irrespective, the State still does not have a structured, measurable program that can intervene and reduce crime before it occurs; proactive Policing.

Unfortunately, over two decades ago, the then Police Command withdrew the Force from active involvement in working face-to-face with youth and the community in crime prevention programs. This decision was not based on any empirical data but the opposite and was implemented by an executive that obviously did not understand Policing and functioned on a whim.

Although there is some activity in this space today, it is minuscule, the efficacy is flaky at best, and what does happen now is not structured or measurable.

The programs scrapped or so severely impacted as to make them impotent, were ‘Blue Light Discos’, ‘Police in Schools Involvement Program’, ‘Safety House’, ‘High Ropes’, and ‘Operation Newstart’, all of which were force-wide. While numerous other programs initiated by local Police, such as ‘Backyard Rugby’, ‘Poll Position’, ‘Walk It Like You Talk It’, and many more, actively engaged with youth.

These programs were predominantly driven by the frontline Police acknowledging the problem and providing a solution, a bottom-up approach with the front line Police having ownership of the initiative and, therefore, voluntary commitment.

The Police recognised the importance of schools in these programs and generally involved them and their community, creating a whole of community approach, to the benefit of the children.

What is forgotten is that the growth of youth gangs can only occur where there is a pool of willing youths eager to join. Engaging with the younger youth before they are misdirected, is the only sure way to mitigate the gang culture – cut the supply line.

Ironically many of these programs initiated and developed in Victoria and then scrapped continue very successfully in other States and overseas, where the value of these programs is universally accepted as an essential part of effective Policing.

Victoria Police have been forced to adopt a more reactive, risk-averse policing model.

The current Chief Commissioner, Patton, is attempting to return to a community policing model, but unfortunately, it is like trying to turn the Titanic. And like the Titanic, these attempts have failed, and the inevitable outcome is where we are today.

In well over a decade, there has been a huge turnover in police numbers, and consequently, many newer police officers know nothing but a reactive policing model, with proactive policing an anathema to most.

We are paying a heavy price with substantial Police resources heavily committed reactively to the youth issue. This is at the cost of servicing the myriad of other societal problems that befall a community. The most obvious is Domestic Violence and the Road Toll.

The result is already being felt, with a marked decline in effective crime prevention, impacting all facets of our lives. Increased incidents of Domestic Violence and a soaring Road Toll.

Fear of crime can be the worst form of oppression for any community.

Having identified failings within Policing, the real elephant in the room seems to avoid scrutiny.

Hiding in full sight is the Judiciary.

While the focus, to a degree, is unfairly levelled at the Police, it is unfair for the Police to shoulder all the blame when it is the Courts that bear the ultimate and the lion’s share of responsibility for the situation we now face.

Police arrest and charge perpetrators, but it is the Courts that determine the penalty upon conviction and must take responsibility for the outcomes of each sentence imposed.

The responsibility for charging perpetrators lies with the police, while the courts determine whether they become recidivists.

However, the legal system in Victoria seems to be a combination of different approaches that claim to be innovative but lack any accountability. The introduction of Restorative Justice in the past decade has caused significant harm to the legal system. This process has reduced the accountability of perpetrators for their crimes and, in some cases, has shifted the blame to the victim. For instance, in cases where the victim left a window open, the perpetrator climbing in and stealing property was seen as less serious, thereby reducing the criminal’s culpability. This is absurd.

In all of the nonsensical initiatives or interpretations that followed the lauded Restorative Justice initiative, the Courts lost perspective of what they were there for and any semblance that the Courts bore any responsibility for the crime rate, is successfully disguised.

Our Court system has so deteriorated that perpetrators can be bailed multiple times, have multiple court appearances, and the Courts simply find excuses to allow the perpetrators to return to the community to offend again.

The oft-hackneyed phrase, ‘incarcerating perpetrators only makes them worse’ -is arrant nonsense because the rhetorical question that must follow is, ‘worse than what?’.

Perpetrators who are recidivists are ‘worse’ back on the streets, particularly young ones who need to be protected from themselves as much as the community needs to be protected from them.

Any notion that the Courts have an obligation to the Victim or society more generally has evaporated. The Courts have been totally encapsulated in the notion that the offender needs all the considerations, and somehow being nice to them will solve the problem.

We suggest that the problem is, that most juvenile offenders who are at the lower end of the IQ Scale see anything other than incarceration as beating the offence.

In reality, most offenders scoff at the lenient sentencing as nothing more than an inconvenience, as the Governments own statistics reveal.

Reoffending by children and young people in Victoria found that in Victoria, young people aged 10 to 14 years have the highest reoffending rates of all ages in the criminal justice system, with more than 80 per cent reoffending at some time, and more than 60 per cent reoffending with an offence against the person (Aggravated Burglaries).

https://www.justice.vic.gov.au/youth-justice-strategic-plan-2020-2030-delivering-age-appropriate-responses-for-10-to-14-year-olds#

The Judiciary has clearly failed in its duty. Generally, it passes off the responsibility for this shocking State of affairs to the ‘Juvenile Justice system or Police, but it is the Judicial officers who are the ones who determine the outcomes, not some bureaucrat working in the Department or a police member trying to attend more calls than the available time their shift allows.

All the browbeating is worth naught until the Judiciary starts regularly incarcerating offenders rather than issuing continued warnings, introducing consequences, a novel approach to reducing crime.

It’s important to understand that detaining juvenile offenders for a brief period can actually be beneficial in breaking their behavioural patterns. This point is often overlooked by those who are against incarcerating minors.

A child lives in the moment, and time relative to them differs greatly from that of an adult.

Many within the Judiciary avoid the hard decisions, and until we insist on accountability and the compilation of useful statistics where the performance of a Judicial Officer can be measured, nothing is likely to change.

What value is a Judicial officer’s service to society when their decisions translate into a very high recidivism rate amongst perpetrators who are convicted in their Court?

We need to shift the focus of the Courts to their proper role of reducing crime.

Without the Courts doing their job, the Police cannot do theirs, and we all suffer as Police are committed to the recidivist gangs rather than other important issues.

And the future? Courts will continue to allow perpetrators to avoid responsibility for their crimes, and Police will be faced with ever-increasing demands for increased police numbers to deal with exponential demand for the reactive function, at a huge cost to the State that you and I pay for.

We desperately need a brave Government intervention and a circuit breaker to the spiralling downward trend of Law and order in Victoria.

Without intervention in the Courts current philosophical disposition, criminals will ultimately face far less punitive outcomes for their activity and coupled with the moves to decriminalise the Drug issue and raise the age of criminal responsibility, you can see where it is headed – and it is not good.

VIOLENCE IN OUR SCHOOLS IS AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT TO SOCIETY.

12th April 2023

The Herald Sun today, Apr 12 2023, reported on the violence surrounding young children involved in violent clashes as part of a ‘Fight Club’ fad operating within the school system. The club and its protagonists are not gender specific.

Organised through social media, these fights appear vicious and common. It comes after the Herald Sun revealed earlier this week that more than 130 brutal fights involving kids had been posted on the Instagram page which celebrates vicious brawls, including more than 30 just in the past week, reported in just one area of Melbourne.

These events involve at least ten schools, and the social media site used has 2000 followers.

These statistics are beyond alarming, and if anybody is naive enough to see this as a school problem, the spill over into the broader community is inevitable; watch out.

Add to that, the complaints from teachers about violence and lack of discipline in the school system directly impacts the learning progress of all students and the safety in the teacher’s workplace. There is little wonder that teachers are hard to recruit. Who wants to go to work with a real risk of getting bashed? No wonder the standard of education is in such decline.

The CAA has raised these issues for a number of years, so there are no excuses for inaction that our community leaders can present – they have been warned ad infinitum, yet have chosen not to act.

It is sad to say that death or acute injury to a student, at school, or a teacher is inevitable. School shootings, the scourge of America, almost will inevitably come to our schools. Perhaps our gun laws may reduce the incidence of firearms, but bladed weapons will be our nemesis.

Putting the collective heads in the sand by those responsible is a disgrace of epic proportions.

This problem is escalating and will not go away unless they act. Stop looking for excuses to divest your responsibility to others; take a leadership position and act; that is supposed to be your job.

When the community realises that the inaction of those with the power to make changes have avoided doing so, and our most valuable resource and future are in decline, they will be looking to lay blame, which could hurt those responsible as much as the kids now suffer.

The violence our children is exposed to can only lead to an upsurge in violence later in life for these children as they see violence as a means to an end.

As an example, it is not rocket science that the children of North Richmond who are being desensitised to the perils of illicit drugs, exposed to the outcomes daily, will lead to many of those children taking up the ‘cool’ life of an addict.

Will the leadership of today take responsibility for those outcomes?

If we think there is an epidemic of Domestic violence, now wait a decade. As children of today enter relationships as adults, the solution to dispute resolution (FDR) will be domestic violence on a scale that will make today’s skyrocketing incidents seem tame.

Inaction by government and police leadership is responsible, and ducking and weaving will not ameliorate the moral responsibility of failure by notable individuals from both entities.

To the current Government and police leadership, the recent headlines about youth violence can only be ignored at your peril.

With over four hundred years of Policing experience and a raft of other disciplines in the CAA, it would be unwise to ignore the warnings and dismiss the solutions we have proffered.

In 2016 we warned of a coming crime tsunami which was ignored, and the prediction eventuated.

Our feedback from the community is that it is getting sick and tired of inaction on critical social areas while less important, on a quantitative scale, are getting the attention.

This is the litany of issues raised by the CAA that have been ignored.

Drug scourge in schools

by CAA | Jun 19, 2017 |

There is no doubt that additional education of students on the negative aspects and risks of drugs is essential, as are support services for those affected. Still, if ever there was an argument for the allocation of Police Resources to schools to work to prevent the problem, then this is it.

In other States, Police are embedded in Secondary Schools as part of a structured Police In Schools Program, but that does not seem to be a worthy allocation of resources in this State. Paradoxically in other States with structured Police In Schools Programs, Crime rates are falling.

Assistant Commissioner Nugent correctly highlights how the drug issue in schools feeds into the ever-increasing crime rate.

We cannot expect teachers to deal with the criminal aspect of the Drug problem in Schools.

Comment;There is no evidence that police actively tried to address this issue- possibly seen as a School problem.

Full story at https://caainc.org.au/drug-scourge-in-schools/?

Class War

by CAA | Oct 8, 2018 |

Apart from the obvious advantages of a safer community overall, the proposal to reintroduce the Police In Schools Program to Primary Schools and embed police in Secondary Schools (PISP) would see a substantial increase in safety for teachers.

The Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) has submitted the PISP proposal to both the Government and the Opposition. However, only the Liberal Opposition has embraced and announced the inclusion of a PISP in their policy.

This initiative would be the most effective way to keep our children safe, help protect our educators and reduce stress and achieve better educational outcomes for our children.

Comment; Twelve months later, after multiple representations, no action was taken.

The Herald Sun today, Apr 12 2023, reported on the violence surrounding young children involved in violent clashes as part of a ‘Fight Club’ fad operating within the school system. The club and its protagonists are not gender specific.

Organised through social media, these fights appear vicious and common. It comes after the Herald Sun revealed earlier this week that more than 130 brutal fights involving kids had been posted on the Instagram page which celebrates vicious brawls, including more than 30 just in the past week, reported in just one area of Melbourne.

These events involve at least ten schools, and the social media site used has 2000 followers.

These statistics are beyond alarming, and if anybody is naive enough to see this as a school problem, the spill over into the broader community is inevitable; watch out.

Add to that, the complaints from teachers about violence and lack of discipline in the school system directly impacts the learning progress of all students and the safety in the teacher’s workplace. There is little wonder that teachers are hard to recruit. Who wants to go to work with a real risk of getting bashed? No wonder the standard of education is in such decline.

The CAA has raised these issues for a number of years, so there are no excuses for inaction that our community leaders can present – they have been warned ad infinitum, yet have chosen not to act.

It is sad to say that death or acute injury to a student, at school, or a teacher is inevitable. School shootings, the scourge of America, almost will inevitably come to our schools. Perhaps our gun laws may reduce the incidence of firearms, but bladed weapons will be our nemesis.

Putting the collective heads in the sand by those responsible is a disgrace of epic proportions.

This problem is escalating and will not go away unless they act. Stop looking for excuses to divest your responsibility to others; take a leadership position and act; that is supposed to be your job.

When the community realises that the inaction of those with the power to make changes have avoided doing so, and our most valuable resource and future are in decline, they will be looking to lay blame, which could hurt those responsible as much as the kids now suffer.

The violence our children is exposed to can only lead to an upsurge in violence later in life for these children as they see violence as a means to an end.

As an example, it is not rocket science that the children of North Richmond who are being desensitised to the perils of illicit drugs, exposed to the outcomes daily, will lead to many of those children taking up the ‘cool’ life of an addict.

Will the leadership of today take responsibility for those outcomes?

If we think there is an epidemic of Domestic violence, now wait a decade. As children of today enter relationships as adults, the solution to dispute resolution (FDR) will be domestic violence on a scale that will make today’s skyrocketing incidents seem tame.

Inaction by government and police leadership is responsible, and ducking and weaving will not ameliorate the moral responsibility of failure by notable individuals from both entities.

To the current Government and police leadership, the recent headlines about youth violence can only be ignored at your peril.

With over four hundred years of Policing experience and a raft of other disciplines in the CAA, it would be unwise to ignore the warnings and dismiss the solutions we have proffered.

In 2016 we warned of a coming crime tsunami which was ignored, and the prediction eventuated.

Our feedback from the community is that it is getting sick and tired of inaction on critical social areas while less important, on a quantitative scale, are getting the attention.

This is the litany of issues raised by the CAA that have been ignored.

Drug scourge in schools

by CAA | Jun 19, 2017 |

There is no doubt that additional education of students on the negative aspects and risks of drugs is essential, as are support services for those affected. Still, if ever there was an argument for the allocation of Police Resources to schools to work to prevent the problem, then this is it.

In other States, Police are embedded in Secondary Schools as part of a structured Police In Schools Program, but that does not seem to be a worthy allocation of resources in this State. Paradoxically in other States with structured Police In Schools Programs, Crime rates are falling.

Assistant Commissioner Nugent correctly highlights how the drug issue in schools feeds into the ever-increasing crime rate.

We cannot expect teachers to deal with the criminal aspect of the Drug problem in Schools.

Comment; There is no evidence that police actively tried to address this issue- possibly seen as a School problem.

Full story at https://caainc.org.au/drug-scourge-in-schools/?

Class War

by CAA | Oct 8, 2018 |

Apart from the obvious advantages of a safer community overall, the proposal to reintroduce the Police In Schools Program to Primary Schools and embed police in Secondary Schools (PISP) would see a substantial increase in safety for teachers.

The Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) has submitted the PISP proposal to both the Government and the Opposition. However, only the Liberal Opposition has embraced and announced the inclusion of a PISP in their policy.

This initiative would be the most effective way to keep our children safe, help protect our educators and reduce stress and achieve better educational outcomes for our children.

Comment; Twelve months later, after multiple representations, no action was taken.

Full story https://caainc.org.au/class-war/?

500 children stalked

by CAA | Nov 8, 2018 |

What a shocking headline, and to think this is the tip of the iceberg.

Most perpetrators are children, so the response is even more alarming than the problem.

The implied strategy to prosecute indicates the failed Law and Order principles applied in this State, where it is more important to prosecute than prevent the offence in the first place.

Many perpetrators, children as young as ten, have barely learnt that there can be consequences to their actions and charging a few kids will not help many victims.

To argue that it will be a deterrent is absolute rubbish.

The severity and the effect of the problem must not be understated. It can devastate the victim, but handling it in a draconian fashion will inevitably lead to more significant problems.

We must be about preventing or managing the problem.

Comment; In 2018 we did not predict that any government would be so inept as to raise the age of criminal responsibility, but they are considering doing so. The consequences of that flawed proposal are yet to be fully realised. But this shocking revelation in relation to stalking only further motivated the CAA to take action, and that is when we decided in 2019 to act where VicPol and the Government would not.

Full story https://caainc.org.au/500-children-stalked/?

Police Veterans in Schools launch

by CAA | Dec 29, 2019

The Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) proposes developing a structured school-based program entitled the Police Veterans in Schools Program (PVISP). The pilot program aims to identify the feasibility of using retired and former police members to deliver a program to teach children community values, the role of police and the law and a suite of victim reduction strategies. Central to this program is building relationships between young people and police so that respect can be developed for the policing function.

Comment; From frustration and inaction by VicPol, the CAA designed and built a School-based program to be delivered by Police Veterans to dovetail with the State school’s curriculum. The CAA recruited a number of Schools who were very enthusiastic and equally enthusiastic retired police to operate a Pilot to demonstrate the program’s effectiveness. But unfortunately, the day the program was to start, COVID hit, stopping the program.

From day one VicPol was invited to be involved in the CAA initiative.

Full story at https://caainc.org.au/police-veterans/

TIME FOR DISCIPLINE IN SCHOOLS AND ELSEWHERE?

by CAA | Feb 5, 2020 |

On Feb 6 2020, The Age education editor, Adam Carey, reported that a global survey shows Australian classrooms are among the least disciplined in the world.

Learning time is lost to noise and disorder, and many students cannot work well in class.

Australia ranked 70th out of 77 participating nations in the OECD’s 2018 index of disciplinary climate.

Coupled with the abysmal level of Australian students learning Maths, it is high time that discipline is reintroduced into all classrooms.

The Community Advocacy Alliance Inc. (CAA) will introduce police veterans into selected schools in 2020.  Our program (PVISP) was launched on Nov 23 2019, and sought to instil in students the basic tenets of good citizenship and provide students with the skills to avoid becoming involved in crime or being victimised.

Comment; How much better position would we now be in had these early warnings been heeded? To blame COVID is an absolute cop-out, as a little creative application could have introduced the concept to the school population and would have helped and been superior to the current approach. But we are now twelve months out of COVID, and still, inaction is the outcome. How many warnings must there be?

Full story at https://caainc.org.au/time-for-discipline-in-schools-and-elsewhere/?

CHIEF COMMISSIONER SLAMS POLICE VETERAN VOLUNTEERS

by CAA | Feb 16, 2020 |

Commissioner Ashton’s letter to the School Principals was blatantly designed to undermine the Police Veteran’s School volunteers. He set out a broad raft of mainly reactive claims that allegedly are applied somehow to schools.

The problem is schools generally know nothing about it. It can only be described as spin.

School principals that have contacted us are either angry or confused because they never see what Ashton claims to be happening. Instead, they embraced the Police Veterans In Schools Program (PVISP).

Comment; Even with Ashton’s letter to schools criticising and distancing VicPol from the program, most schools still wanted to proceed, if only on an informal basis. Aggravating the letter, an internal memo was sent by VicPol to all police stations directing them not to cooperate with schools involved in the program or members of the CAA. Even so, the school’s commitments generally did not wain; however, COVID ended that.

Full story https://caainc.org.au/chief-commissioner-slams-police-veteran-                     volunteers/?

To all fellow Victorians –

Open letter by Kel Glare, former Chief Commissioner and Chair of the CAA.

by CAA | Mar 24, 2021 |

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 partly 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.

At this time, we were very heartened when the current Chief Commissioner, Shane Patton APM announced that VicPol would finally implement a formal Police schools program for Victoria.

Comment; Unfortunately, two years later, we are yet to see the Chief Commissioners’ commitment realised.

We do not question the commitment and intent of the Chief as we believe he was genuine. Still, we are advised that he struck headwinds from other Senior executives who coincidently featured in the era when former Commissioner Nixon cancelled the project originally. Ashton followed through attempting to stop the reintroduction, all be it by veterans not impacting the Police resource argument.

The objectors can be easily identified by their lack of policing skills and poor understanding of proactive policing, the most effective type. The need to replace these people with enlightened and competent executives has never been more urgent.

Full story at https://caainc.org.au/to-all-fellow-victorians/

Victoria Police have rolled out justification for not introducing a formal police schools program, and the list of police activities in schools at first glance is impressive until closer examination reveals a huge serving of spin is all it is.

Police attending schools on an ad-hoc basis with no structured curriculum is both inane and inept akin to smoke and mirrors. It is also the easy way out, just playing with the kids.

It is flawed dramatically, with no ability to measure outcomes or coordinate and target issues of concern with no ability to modify to rising challenges.

The current approach is similar Police Lecture Squad of many years ago. This allegedly highly trained Police team visited schools on a full-time basis and prided itself on its specialist status.

It featured prominently in Annual Reports and was seen as the frontline in working with kids.

This Team were briefed about a severe problem in a particular school and tasked to rearrange their schedule to address the issue urgently.

After much resistance, the Team arranged to see the school at an assembly of the whole school. (Avoiding confronting the age group responsible for the concerns)

To the amazement and embarrassment of their supervisors, the Team presented a short dissertation on pedestrian road safety and did not address or mention the serious issue the school faced.

As a direct result, the Team was disbanded and transferred to Operational Duties.

Where this Chief Commissioner is facing headwinds either in executive management or at the coordinating level, those placing the roadblocks or are unable to perform their task must be removed, and competent people deployed to the function.

Our children deserve that much.

 

 

TEN TO FOURTEENS- COMMIT MURDER BUT NOT IN VICTORIA – REALLY?

TEN TO FOURTEENS- COMMIT MURDER BUT NOT IN VICTORIA – REALLY?

20th March 2023

Do you remember the shocking case of two-year-old James Bulger?

1993    James was abducted, tortured and murdered by two young boys. The murder happened  in the UK, and Robert Thompson and Jon Venables were convicted for this atrocious  crime. They were both ten years old when the offence occurred. The high-profile 1993 British case horrified the world, everybody was rightly stunned as to how that could happen, but it did.

James Bulger being abducted by Thompson and Venables.

2017    An eleven-year-old boy was charged with Murdering Patrick Slater in a brawl in Perth.
2020   Solomone Taufeulungaki, a Melbourne Teenager, was murdered by a gang of  eleven, including two thirteen-year-olds. They have all been charged with  Solomone’s murder.

Melbourne Teenager Solomone Taufeulungaki was murdered by children

2021.  Five young people charged with Murder in Sydney, boys aged 13,14,15,13 and a girl aged 15, were apparently the perpetrators, all charged with the murder of  a sixteen-year-old boy.
2023  Media report that a 13-year-old was charged with the murder of his 4-year-old   sibling in Danville, Virginia, US. The 13-year-old was charged with murder after suffocating their sibling and confessing to the crime.
2023 The report (H/S 16/03/23 p.22) of the murder of a twelve-year-old girl by  classmates aged twelve and thirteen who confessed the crime. The victim was stabbed thirty times and dumped in a wooded area.

In this incident, offenders were aged twelve and thirteen and was particularly gruesome and horrific; highlighting the folly of increasing the age of criminal culpability to fourteen.

This murder occurred in Germany, where the age of criminal responsibility has been lifted to fourteen, and neither perpetrator can be charged, raising some very interesting issues for Victoria, currently considering the same regressive move.

  • Will the victim’s family face being confronted by the perpetrators in their community?
  • How will the family cope knowing the murderers were not punished or even tried?
  • What happens if the perpetrators claim innocence? Their matter is never tried so they will be forever tarred with the title murderer? The legal maxim, innocent until proven guilty, may not reconcile with the Court of Public opinion.
  • What happens to the perpetrators? The sheer brutality requires the community to be protected.
  • Clearly, the police would have no power to intervene in any continuing offending, so who does?

We accept that these offences are not an everyday occurrence. Still, they are so brutal when they happen that the community cannot and will not tolerate this decriminalisation as part of being an enlightened society – particularly for the families of those who, as a result, have their loved ones’ lights put out, brutally and permanently.

These random examples are just a few of what happens, and it happens here, so we would be extremely foolish to take the ‘won’t happen here’ path.

It has and will continue to happen; the uncomfortable truth for the social dreamers is that as much as we might wish it, it is inevitable.

This current push in Victoria has the hallmarks of another Social construct that is not well thought out and devoid of an understanding of the consequences and reality.

The number of children aged 10-14 charged in 2007 was just over 10% (of all young people charged), but by 2016, the trend had the figure at 4.3%, according to the Crime Statistics Agency Vic.

Our current strategies are working, although they could be improved upon; why dabble, build on a solid foundation if you want enhanced results.

As the law currently stands in Victoria, a child over ten and under fourteen cannot be charged with a criminal offence unless they knew the alleged act was wrong when they did it. The safeguard of having an independent person/ parent present when the child is interviewed, to our knowledge, has never been challenged.

This proposal is like throwing the baby out with the bath water, inane.

There is no doubt that youth crime has grown overall, but then so has the community, and the Police Cautioning program, its years of success, with its low recidivism rate remaining the cornerstone of this multi-discipline approach in guiding young people away from crime. Still, it is not designed to deal with serious crimes committed by the very young, which has to remain the purview of the Courts.

See https://files.crimestatistics.vic.gov.au/

The following questions we pose for the Government.

  • What mechanisms will be in place to protect the community?
  • What mechanisms will be designed to help victims?
  • What do police do with the child?
  • What protections exist to allay litigation for the victim or the perpetrator?
  • What strategies prevent criminals from exploiting and using children to commit crimes, particularly in the drug scene?

Germany has made a grave mistake with their approach, lifting the age to fourteen; there is no empirical data even to hint that the current system in Victoria of the age of responsibility is an issue.

A home invasion where victims are woken to find perpetrators in their houses is extremely frightening. However, this scare is not mitigated because the perpetrators are subsequently determined to be children. The victims will be just as terrified in some circumstances fearing for their life, irrespective of the age of the offenders.  A list of Home invasions allegedly committed by children under fourteen would be too long to detail here.

The danger increases for the victim if the perpetrators are young, as they do not understand all the consequences of their actions. That is an irrefutable fact.

We have no issue with, and support developing strategies to reduce the incidence of juvenile offending and support any efforts in this area, and equally support the current multi-discipline approach to reduce the likelihood of young people reoffending.

However, we strongly reject the current proposal, which effectively removes the ability of police to give a formal caution where the child, the parents, and professionals can be brought together to assist the child’s direction and also completely ignores the rights of victims and the broader impact on the community. The risk of escalating child criminality is just too great.

We do strongly recommend that a formal and structured police-in-schools program be revisited as a preventative initiative with the added advantage that the assistance for the children can be coordinated with the schools bringing police and the professionals together to achieve better outcomes, focusing on prevention and follow-up of children cautioned, improving the outcomes for children. Such a program also educates children in the pitfalls of being involved in anti-social behaviour in all its forms and encourages their formal education.

Additionally, this program will support School staff confronted by children or parents and create an overall safer school environment for all, to improve educational outcomes overall.

So let’s hope sensible, pragmatic ideas prevail and raising the age of criminal responsibility is not pursued.

Premier – don’t do it.

The CAA would be happy to assist the Government in achieving a workable plan with reduced risks to all.

YOUR MOVE PREMIER

YOUR MOVE PREMIER

2nd March 2023

Interesting to see what happens, now that the idea of raising the age of criminal intent to fourteen years is facing scrutiny, even before it is introduced.

An idea that sounds wonderful in theory but fails the young people it seeks to benefit.

As reported on the 24th of February 2023 by the Herald Sun, a group of young offenders have been arrested, including boys under fourteen.

A 13-year-old faces nine charges, including attempted aggravated burglary, theft of a motor vehicle, affray, unlawful assault, burglary, theft, robbery, failure to answer Bail and committing an indictable offence while on Bail.

A 12-year-old boy is facing charges including theft of a motor vehicle, affray, robbery, shop theft, and committing an indictable offence while on Bail.

These are not isolated incidents and happen all too frequently.

The questions we have for the Premier are –

  • How will you deal with young violent thugs when you lift the age to fourteen? Will Police have no power to arrest once their age is established?
  • Having established their age, then what do the Police do with them? Put them back on the street to offend again?
  • What happens to the Police Cautioning Program that has served the State so well and is by far and away the most used and effective sanction when Police deal with young offenders? The caution will no longer be able to be offered in lieu of prosecution.
  • What are you going to tell the Victims – the offences committed by these young thugs hurt the Victim just as much, irrespective of the age of the perpetrator? Just because they were assaulted by a twelve-year-old, the damage is no less painful.
  • And what happens to the young perpetrator that will dissuade them from offending again?
  • What liability does the State carry for a failure to ensure the safety of the young perpetrators? It would seem a lot. There would be a ‘hue and cry’ if a young penetrator was seriously injured while committing a crime where the State failed, in their duty of care, to intervene in the childs criminal endeavours.
  • What protection is offered to victims of violent sex offenders in this cohort?
  • And of greatest concern is what happens when a young person in this cohort commits murder. It can and does happen.
  • If a young person is accused of a serious crime, that accusation may not leave them, which is particularly brutal if the child is innocent.
  • How do you propose to teach young people that there are consequences for unlawful acts?

The argument for the necessity of this move is not based on facts and will eliminate the option for a Police caution for children under fourteen.

“Of 5981 young people alleged to have committed an offence 56% received a caution, 45% were charged.

Consistent with the findings of previous studies, young people who were cautioned were less likely to re-offend than those charged. The current study also found a longer duration between the index incident and their first reoffending incident for cautioned young people as opposed to those charged.”

See- https://www.crimestatistics.vic.gov.au/research-and-evaluation/publications/youth-crime/the-cautious-approach-police-cautions-and-the

This government proposal has been suggested by people with little or no idea of the psyche of young people of this age.

  • If arrested, being sent home will be interpreted as, winning and beating the system.
  • Time for young people is now; no matter what they are told, if intercepted by the Police, they will immediately return to the social set that got them into criminality. (One of the great advantages leading to the success of the Police Cautioning Program is that it can be delivered in close time proximity to the offending, having a greater impact than a Court case some many months after the event from which the child has long moved on both in maturity and socially.)
  • These same young people are hazardous to the community because they have no concept of the consequences of their actions on victims.
  • The concept of Bail is also seen as them beating the system. They do not ignore the Bail but do not grasp what it means.

What is very obviously deficient in this proposal is what it intends to achieve.

Called progressive socialism, it is a concept heavy on the narrow emotive argument, a subjective bias of the perpetrator’s age, and sadly lacking in effectiveness.

Premier, if you want community support, please explain how you will reduce the suffering of Victims and how this proposal will benefit young people and steer them from a life of crime.

Avoiding consequences at that age, will instead ensure they become entrenched in a life of crime.