Controversial police program successfully reducing crime: report
“Both programs are associated with sizeable, robust, practically and statistically significant reductions in crime,” the paper concluded, finding the impact was largely through deterrence rather than incapacitation in prison.
The study did warn that STMP-II might be increasing offending for Aboriginal people who spent between 91-180 days in custody in the follow-up period. It attributed this to an increase in break and enter offences.
“This suggests that the program may need to be modified for Aboriginal people to reduce the risk of any adverse outcomes. Consultation with Aboriginal elders in both the selection for, and application of the program may be one possible area for improvement,” it concluded.
BOCSAR executive director Jackie Fitzgerald said the findings focus on the effectiveness of the programs, which had not been properly analysed before.
“STMP has been criticised for targeting vulnerable groups such as juveniles and Aboriginal people,” she said.
“While our evaluation confirms that these groups are over-represented among STMP participants, this now needs to be considered in light of the considerable crime reduction associated with participating in the program.”
The study compared the offending rates of 10,103 people on the STMP-II list and 1028 on the DV-STMP list in the 12 months before and after their listing.
The STMP has existed in some form since 2002 and is the state’s largest initiative targeting individuals with deterrence tactics. Under STMP, police regularly visit targets’ homes, stop them on the street and conduct searches.
Earlier this year, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission found the plan “showed patterns of targeting that appear to have led to unreasonable, unjust and oppressive interactions for young STMP targets”.
The police watchdog found the tactics used against juveniles could be “overt and intrusive” and noted no analysis had been done at that point on the effectiveness of the program in reducing recidivism.
Despite the concerns about vulnerable people being targeted, police are attracted to proactive initiatives like STMP as a way to efficiently use resources to focus on people who account for a disproportionate amount of crime.
Following the criticisms from LECC, NSW Police made changes to the STMP, including improved engagement with Aboriginal community and youth liaison officers and revising the way people’s offending risk is assessed.
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Fergus Hunter is a reporter for Fairfax Media in the federal press gallery at Parliament House. He tweets @fergushunter