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You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 17 July 2009 – 30 June 2010 Restoring order in Queensland’s Indigenous communities — 20.11.2009
You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 17 July 2009 – 30 June 2010 Restoring order in Queensland’s Indigenous communities — 20.11.2009
You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 17 July 2009 – 30 June 2010 Restoring order in Queensland’s Indigenous communities — 20.11.2009

Restoring order in Queensland’s Indigenous communities — 20.11.2009

Improved crime prevention rather than law enforcement in remote Indigenous communities is the key to improving relations between the Queensland Police Service and Indigenous people, according to a Crime and Misconduct Commission report.

Today the CMC released Restoring order: Crime prevention, policing and local justice in Queensland’s Indigenous communities which details research and recommendations from its independent inquiry into policing in Queensland’s remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities.

The comprehensive report argues that the task of reducing crime and violence in Queensland’s Indigenous communities is central to improving relations between the community members and police, reducing Indigenous overrepresentation in the justice system and optimising the use of criminal justice resources.

CMC Chairperson Robert Needham says while the QPS has made substantial efforts in improving relations and crime prevention in Indigenous communities, these efforts must be stepped up.

‘The QPS must send a strong and constant message to Indigenous communities and its officers that improving relations is a priority it takes seriously,’ Mr Needham said.

‘A more sophisticated approach to policing is also needed in the communities. While reactive law enforcement has a place in reducing crime, a proactive approach will be more successful in the long term.

‘Police need to work with local people in analysing underlying issues in the communities they are policing and look at ways to solve these problems before the offence actually occurs.

‘But the size of the problem to be overcome should not be underestimated. Historical events stretching over decades have led to a lack of trust and confidence in the relationship between police and Indigenous communities. It is fragile, tense, and highly volatile.’

‘Contributing to the tension is the high crime rate in Indigenous communities. High levels of crime generate much of the ‘heat’ in relations with police in these remote areas.

‘But contrary to the long held notion that Indigenous people are ‘overpoliced’, in these communities we got a clear message that people desire more policing, not less. They are very concerned about the high crime rate and want safe and peaceful communities.

‘However, policing alone is not the answer. Underlying problems which become the concern of police need to be dealt with by the community, state government and police,’ Mr Needham said.

‘Our report recommends that the problems facing the communities are tackled on three fronts. We need to strike a balance between real crime prevention, community involvement and more sophisticated policing. None of these elements can work in isolation.

‘Crime prevention must be central to policing in Indigenous communities, to state government strategies and, more importantly, to the communities themselves. The will of people in Queensland’s Indigenous communities to make changes must be ignited,’ Mr Needham said.

‘Many reports before ours have highlighted the need for crime prevention strategies beyond the criminal justice system. Despite this, the emphasis has remained largely on reactive criminal justice; that is focusing on dealing with offending and offenders.

‘While several state government programs have been of assistance such as Alcohol Management Plans and the Family Responsibilities Commission, most crime prevention strategies remain poorly developed and piecemeal.’

‘This has led to the state government’s failure to make inroads in reducing Indigenous overrepresentation. We now need to translate the crime prevention rhetoric into reality,’ Mr Needham said.

The CMC has recommended the creation of a new QPS command dedicated to Indigenous issues to help improve relations and shift the focus of policing from law enforcement to maximising crime prevention.

The new structure, the Indigenous Policing Partnership Command, would be led by an officer of the rank of Assistant Commissioner whose leadership would drive the substantial changes required of the QPS arising from the CMC’s report.

The creation of the command would send a clear message that the QPS values and supports the role of police and its relations in Indigenous communities.

The new position would also be important in assisting efforts to provide a whole-of-government response to problems of Indigenous disadvantage.

The CMC has also recommended that the Queensland government refocus its approach to criminal justice policy to build a more rational evidence-based response to crime.

‘A ‘one size fits all’ model won’t work. Control must be given to communities to develop, adapt or invent strategies to meet their local needs and circumstances.

‘The state government must commit to allocating funds to support these initiatives and give less priority to new high level policy frameworks that have made little impact on the ground,’ Mr Needham said.

‘Our report provides a vast amount of information which underpins the six recommendations and 51 action items. I encourage those who have a stake in improving policing in Indigenous communities to read this report and embrace our recommendations,’ Mr Needham said.

‘We recognise that if relations between Queensland police officers and the Indigenous communities are to move forward, it will need effort, commitment and bold action by the QPS, the state government and the Indigenous communities.’

‘The CMC will monitor their progress over the next three years. The task that lies ahead for communities, police and government is difficult but achievable,’ Mr Needham said.


Audio of the press conference available (WMA, 2.5 MB).


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Last updated: 29 November 2012
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