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.

THE CAA FAMILY VIOLENCE STRATEGY

THE CAA FAMILY VIOLENCE STRATEGY

A concise overview of critical issues, underpinning principles, and the evidence base for recommended actions.

The 2015 Royal Commission into Domestic Violence made 227 recommendations that cost the Victorian Government $2.7B to implement. This is now a multi-billion-dollar industry with a Minister for Family Violence, a Department of Family Violence, and a Multi-agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework.

The claims are to train 37,500 workers in Phase 1 (850 organisations) and 370,000 workers in Phase 2 (5,580 organisations).

The industry creates reports, resources and practice guides, grants, plans, research, statistical collection and analysis, guidelines, training, victim support groups, investigators, police, crisis assistance services, helplines, lawyers, security and the judicial system.

But they can’t arrange a response team to help Victims during a crisis.

Little in pragmatic and direct assistance for victims at the time of crisis and at the highest risk of being assaulted to protect them during these heightened risk periods or, in crime parlance, pro-active intervention.

This intervention is not to be confused with the Police role as that will remain in relation to direct physical threats and or actual physical violence. While there are no specific criminal laws against coercive control in Victoria, there are legal remedies victim-survivors can take. The Victorian Family Violence Protection Act includes coercive behaviour in its definition of family violence. That issue is a matter best dealt with by professionals other than the Police.

It is important to understand the size of the issue.

  • One Woman is killed every week in Australia due to Family violence.
  • Recorded Family Violence in Victoria is increasing, with Victoria Police reporting one incident every six minutes; 90,424 Recorded Incidents in Victoria in the 2021-2022 financial year.
  • Police time applied to Family Violence and Domestic Violence administration severely impacts the ability of Police to respond to other community issues.

We also know that,

  • Victim survivors report higher rates of violence from a perpetrator after separation. (Police are usually not directly involved at his stage, but the matter is in the hands of the Courts or the Domestic Violence Industry).
  • Children are present in 30% of family violence incidents attended by police.
  • NSW, Qld and Tas have “coercive control” legislation – Victoria still reviewing it!
  • Tasmania has had ankle bracelets on perpetrators for many years – Victoria is still reviewing!

Eight years after the Royal Commission, what has been achieved?

  • It has spawned the Family Violence bureaucratic Industry.
  • Statistics, when released, remain consistent, with little progress on designing or empirically introducing reduction strategies.
  • Critical risk victims are forced into hiding and wear a huge bracelet with a panic button.
  • Perpetrators consistently remain at large on bail able to strike at will.
  • Police are bogged down with bureaucratic risk assessments and bail/remand processes.

Family Safety Strategic Plan 2021-2024: https://www.vic.gov.au/family-safety-victoria-strategic-plan-2021-2024/print-all

CAA Key Policy Positions.

  1. Strengthen the focus to “offender accountability” while maintaining “victim support”.
  2. Remove administrative functions from Operational Police and the function of Government Welfare services.
  3. Urgent Legislation
    1. Ankle monitors and vehicle tracking monitors (if perpetrators are released on bail).
    2. Specific coercive control legislation.
    3. Tightening of bail laws.
    4. Domestic violence disclosure scheme (Clare’s Law – UK 2009 -perpetrator priors available to victims on request.

CAA Observations and Recommendations

The net outcome of the Royal Commission and the Government’s responses is the creation of a Domestic Violence industry with a plethora of Quango’s and Convocations costing billions of dollars but with little or no positive impact on the people it was intended to benefit.

If there is something déjà vu about this issue, it’s not surprising. Similarities or a parallel to the issues around our first peoples come to mind.

Spending huge amounts of money with no appreciable improvements for the victims.

The CAA strongly recommends an independent inquiry into the application of resources, accountabilities and effectiveness of outcomes at the coal face.

It is long past time for positive action.

POLICE OPERATIONAL BIAS

POLICE OPERATIONAL BIAS

The breaking down of law and order in Victoria has been evident for some time, but recently, this concept has accelerated to a very worrying level.

The past is only relevant to identify patterns; the future is the worry, as it seems nothing is being done to arrest the decline.

Currently, the situation where demonstrators, seemingly with impunity, do whatever they can to intimidate another sector of the community, instilling gross fear on any part of the community, is unacceptable on so many levels.

Worryingly, is that the intimidation is so vitriolic it is only a ‘hair’s breadth’ away from violence.

The seriousness of the situation cannot be downplayed, and yet the Police, who are responsible for maintaining law and order, seem ineffective through bias.

This is not the Australian way.

The bias by Policing has been developing for some time, and we suggest it has a lot to do with the failure of the principle of the ‘Separation of Powers’[i], a long-held presumption that has been eroded, and the management of public order is where it most obviously manifests.

The failure of this principle, where the decisions and responses to public order are tainted by Political bias, is a two-way street.

The blatant direct involvement of politics in decision-making has become far less obvious, but we are sure it still occurs; what has evolved is a far more insidious, unconscious bias. A will to please political masters or those who support the government without direct interaction.

The Police have no role in allowing partisan views to influence responses but must respond on the basis of maintaining law and order, and that includes protecting vulnerable groups and all citizens; the issues and reasons for disquiet must never influence the operational response.

Some of the disquiet in police ranks that has provoked industrial action recently has been attributed to the Forces’ obvious bias.

This move toward partisanship with the government of the day has been an attempt by Governments to own police powers and have a far greater say in the operations of Policing, a repugnant concept that might seem fine in theory, but, as we have seen, makes Policing ineffective.

The current demonstrations against Israel by pro-Palestinian groups supporting Hamas are a case in point.

The basis of the demonstrations is those allegedly opposed to Israel’s response to the attacks, hostage-taking and murders committed by Hamas. The role of Victoria Police must not be influenced by the reasons for the demonstration but by providing a Police response to maintain Law and order and should be as concerned with protecting the abused Jews as they should be for those who identify as Pro-Palestinian.

The accusation of police bias is a ‘hot button’ issue sure to raise the ire of Police executives. Be that as it may, the matter is immensely serious, and the issue of the breakdown of the ‘Separation of Powers’ and biase must be corrected.

To ignore the issue will be a blight on the capacity of Police Senior management as this issue lies at their feet.

The following list of incidents indicates beyond doubt that bias is at play and must be addressed.

  • Black Lives Matter – passive police response acting as spectators.
  • COVID-19 – aggressive police response including use of firearms on demonstrators – aggressive role extending over numerous occasions for two years, including chasing and dispersing demonstrators using defensive weapons like pepper spray as an attack weapon. Tea bagging protestors to make them breach the COVID rules.
  • Sundry environmental demonstrations – passive police role acting as spectators.
  • Pro-Palestine (Hamas) demonstrations -passive police response acting as spectators.

We do not support unnecessarily aggressive responses but demand the Police apply the law without fear or favour, malice or ill will, absolutely, irrespective of the issue at hand.

Following this principle will rapidly improve and rebuild the image and confidence that the community had in its Police, and the police members will be able to return to the non-partisan positions they once were able to hold in their professional capacity, improving the morale within the organisation so that the workplace again becomes non-partisan.

We acknowledge, however, that the government has a lot to answer for by diluting the Police power to manage these issues by repealing the ‘move on’ Laws.

It has seriously diminished police authority to perform their task.

By removing those powers, the closest analogy is a law to remove the ability of doctors to carry a stethoscope when working in Emergency Rooms (ER).

The Victoria Police can and must do better operationally, free from Government pressure and interference.

[i] In Australia, the power to make and manage laws is shared between the Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary. The separation of powers avoids any person or group having all the power. https://peo.gov.au/