The Australian Institute of Criminology has recently published the results of a study on communities that generate criminals. The results of this research known as “Targeting crime prevention: Identifying communities that generate chronic and costly offenders” discusses the growing gaps in arrests between the Indigenous people of Australia and non-Indigenous people. Indigenous people over the age of 10 were about 6 times more likely to be arrested according to the data presented in 2009-2010. The trend appears to also be continuing to grow with youth offenders increasing as well.
Since this problem has been recognized, two frameworks have been created to try to close the gap in the over-representation of the Indigenous as people that are more likely to be arrested. The data also confirms that the Indigenous population is also more likely to have ongoing legal issues and to continue to be involved in criminal activities and become more likely to spend an extended period of time involved with the criminal justice system. The crime prevention strategy known as the “Closing the Gap” strategy aims to take a long term approach to change this by helping the communities to avoid creating the conditions that lead to criminal activity. The strategy will be implemented over the next several years and possible decades to try to affect multiple generations of people in the community in order to change things.
The strategy will focus on 7 main areas which include health, economic and business initiatives, improving home life, improving the safety of the community, governance, improving early childhood education for parents, improving schools and better leadership. The goal is to also demonstrate that these offenders are not randomly distributed geographically and instead come from specific places that meet certain conditions that lead to criminal activity.
The reason given for the criminal activity rates being higher in these locations is that certain communities both Indigenous and non-indigenous are socially and economically disadvantaged which means that social intervention needs to take place with those communities. The social and economic disadvantages lead the people of those communities to seek out criminal activities on a more common basis in order to cope with the issues plaguing them personally and their communities and families. The program also aims to work directly with the families in the communities to find out what the exact issues are and where changes need to be made. If a dialog is opened directly with the families in those communities, then the exact issues can be determined and targeted by the strategy.
Unfortunately though there have not been any details published that indicate exactly what the procedure will be for talking with the families in the communities so that the data can be collected to help solve the issues. The strategy is still in the process of being put together.
The research for this publication has been done via a grant for the Criminology Research Grants. This Criminology Research Grants is under the direction of the Criminology Research Advisory Council.