Crime prevention - Now for the hard questions?

Paul Wilson, RA Lincoln

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Many years ago I addressed the Australian Crime Prevention Council and basically accused them of being a well-meaning body of men and women but one whose conceptual and theoretical understandings of what was involved in crime
prevention were naive in the extreme. Since that talk it has been a long time between invitations to speak to this august body and I suspect that after this talk, it will be even longer before I am invited back again. In the intervening years I have been involved - before, during and after my time at the Australian Institute of Criminology - in many crime prevention projects. These included the only overall evaluation of crime prevention approaches yet published in this country (with Ivan Potas and Adrian Vining). It is heartening to see such an upsurge in crime prevention generated by the Council, governments, business and academia. However, we still maintain that there are some very real difficulties in how the term is used, implemented and conceptualised.
In our examination of the current situation of crime prevention in this country, we have elected to focus on juvenile justice policies and programs for most of the more comprehensive and recent work has been done in this area. But we need to
begin by asking some basic questions: who comprises the group we call “youth”, do we take a justice or a welfare approach to their situation, and are they predominantly victims or offenders? In addition we need to examine the broader questions: how do changes in public attitudes (like victims rights and law and order lobbies) affect youth policies, and how does fiscal constraint and political expediency alter the policy directions? This paper explores these questions and then examines recent juvenile justice developments in Western Australia and Queensland. It critically analyses the schemes in these States to arrive at the view that the justice and welfare models are not additive and that is therefore time to take a new approach - namely a social development model to crime prevention.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Sixteenth Biennial Conference of the Australian Crime Prevention Council Council
Subtitle of host publicationChaos or Reason. Community safety in the twenty-first century
Place of PublicationBrisbane
PublisherAustralian Crime Prevention Council
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)0 646 15729 9
Publication statusPublished - 1993
EventThe 16th Biennial Conference of the Australian Crime Prevention Council: Chaos or Reason-Community Safety in the Twenty-First Century - Parliament House, Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 21 Sept 199324 Sept 1993
Conference number: 16


ConferenceThe 16th Biennial Conference of the Australian Crime Prevention Council
Abbreviated titleACPC
OtherThe Sixteenth National Conference was held in Queensland between September 21 and 24, 1993, under the theme “Chaos or Reason-Community Safety in the Twenty-First Century”.
The Executive then comprised Mr Clive Begg (President) Justice Purvis (Past president) Judge Wilson (Vice President) Mr John King (Secretary) Mr Ashley Reid (Treasurer) and Prof Don Robertson (NSW) Mr Michael Benes (Vic) and Mr Bill Cullen (WA). Guest Speakers at the Conference included Professor Ezzat Fattah (Professor in Criminology at the Simon Fraser University, Canada), Dr Irwin Waller (Vice President of the World Society of Victimology) Mr Kevin Gill (Lead Youth Consultant, Crime Concern, United Kingdom) and many others.
In his address at the Opening of the Conference, Hon Glen Milliner, Queensland Minister for Corrective services, observed that every government in Australia, from the Federal Government to the states and local authorities had to concentrate on crime prevention, observing that Corrective Services were only part of that process, prison was the last resort, and police forces were only marginally ahead in the crime prevention process. He said that he despaired every time someone espoused the theory that if jails were tougher, and penalties were harsher, the crime problem would be overcome. History, he said, taught that this was rubbish, as was the notion that legislation could prevent crime. He said that Governments must realise that short term political mileage would mean long-term suffering.
He said that the Council had a mammoth job to do and that government support to it would range from whole-hearted to spasmodic. The challenge for the Council, he said, was to get community support and to do this it must have media attention and support.
In his paper, Judge Wilson said that the Council should consider changing its role to focus more on the encouragement of research into, evaluation of, and action to implement crime prevention strategies and programs.


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