Secret NSW Police policy harmful to young people

A NSW Police policy that aims to predict and prevent future crime is causing serious harm to young people and undermines the objectives of the NSW youth justice system, a new report has found.

The report, released today by the Youth Justice Coalition, considers the impact on young people of the Suspect Targeting Management Plan (STMP), a NSW Police policy which aims to prevent crime by targeting recidivist offenders. It is the first publicly available analysis of the impact of the STMP on young people (under 25). The STMP itself is not publicly available.

‘There is no publicly available evaluation or evidence that the STMP actually prevents or reduces crime,’ said report co-author, Camilla Pandolfini, from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

In an attempt to prevent re-offending, young people on the STMP are singled out by police for pro-active attention, including being repeatedly detained and searched while going about their everyday lives, and visited at home at all hours of the day.

‘The STMP is a very invasive police policy that has significant detrimental impact on the lives of young people who are subject to it, and their families,’ said Camilla Pandolfini.

‘Some young people, as young as 13, report being stopped and searched in public, including on the train, sometimes several times a week, and visited at home by police, late at night, for no specific reason.  We know that children as young as ten have been placed on an STMP.

‘This type of heavy-handed proactive policing is very damaging to the relationship between young people and the police and we believe it undermines key objectives of the NSW justice system, including diversion, rehabilitation and therapeutic justice,’ said report co-author Dr Vicki Sentas, Senior Lecturer at UNSW Law and Redfern Legal Centre Police Powers Clinic.

‘It is particularly concerning that the policy appears to disproportionately target young Aboriginal people, according to figures we obtained under freedom of information, from ten local area commands.

‘We know that ‘tough on crime’ approaches to policing young people engender fear in communities, diminish trust in the police and delegitimise police actions. They also fail to address any of the underlying causes of youth crime and stigmatise and marginalise vulnerable individuals and communities.

‘We are also concerned about a lack of accountability and transparency in relation to the STMP. Young people are not formally notified when they are placed on the STMP, or for what reason. They have no opportunity to appeal the decision, nor any information about what they need to do to be removed from it.

‘We urge the NSW Police to undertake a comprehensive review of the STMP in relation to the way it applies to young people.

‘We recommend that the police stop applying the STMP to children under 18, where we believe the policy has the greatest potential to do the most harm,’ added Vicki Sentas.

Read the full report: ‘Policing Young People in NSW: A study of the Suspect Targeting Management Plan’.

MEDIA CONTACT: PIAC Media and Communications Manager, Gemma Pearce: 0478 739 280.


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