138.5 Community policing in Australia's aboriginal communities

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 1:06 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Elaine BARCLAY , School of Behavioural, cognitive and social sciences, University of New England, Armidale, Australia
John SCOTT , School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Science, University of New England, Armidale, Australia
The policing of Australia’s Indigenous people has a long and troubled history, reflected in the perpetual over-representation of Aboriginal people within the criminal justice system.  However, over the past two decades, community policing initiatives have been developed by Aboriginal people to enable their communities to be more effective in preventing crime and provide effective models of sanctioning and rehabilitating offenders.  These initiatives are often grounded in models of restorative justice.  This paper discusses three of these initiatives, namely: circle sentencing, Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers and community night patrols.  In particular, we critically examine community night patrols, drawing on data from an evaluation of night patrols in the state of New South Wales. We argue community policing can be successful in reducing crime because it draws on one of the most important (and overlooked) forms of social capital among rural Aboriginal people – strong social and kinship networks. However, we also highlight the different capacity of communities to regulate conflicts, support victims and offenders and resource reintegration, noting that communities are not a natural set of relations, but constructed on broad terrain of history and politics.