Policing and detention

Our criminal justice legal should make our communities safer. But abuse of powers by police and detention authorities makes communities lose trust.

The Justice and Equity Centre provides critical oversight of NSW Police, prisons and youth detention centres, to protect human rights and ensure fair and lawful treatment.

Heavy-handed law and order approaches are too common in NSW. Already marginalised communities are often over-policed and over-incarcerated, resulting in cycles of criminalisation and disadvantage.

Our policing and detention team exposes and challenges inappropriate and unlawful practices, particularly those that disproportionately impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, young people and people experiencing homelessness.

Authorities are not above the law. By holding them accountable, we make our communities stronger and safer.

Over policing of First Nations communities

When people are unfairly targeted and harassed, they feel persecuted, disempowered and lose trust in the system. Working in collaboration with First Nations partner organisations, we call out discriminatory police practices that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – practices that are contributing to the disproportionate incarceration of First Nations adults and children.

Read more about our work to expose and challenge discriminatory policing.

Over policing of young people

Young people can be unfairly targeted by police and often do not understand their rights.

We represent young people who have experienced harassment or unlawful treatment by police, to get them justice and compensation. Our casework informs our advocacy to drive system change, so fewer young people have harmful interactions with police.

Protecting the rights of young people in detention

Children and young people from marginalised communities are overrepresented in Australian prisons and youth detention centres, including people with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people who have experienced homelessness.

Our youth detention work provides oversight of practices in youth detention centres, to ensure young people are treated with dignity and respect.

Detaining children and young people should only ever be a last resort, given the harm it causes. Our work seeks to ensure that children in detention are treated appropriately for their age and retain their rights to contact with family and legal services, in accordance with international law.

We challenge the use of solitary confinement because locking a young person alone in a cell for days on end is not just inhumane and outdated, it has serious and lasting effects on mental health.

News and resources

Solicitor Kate Sinclair spoke to 2SER about our concerns with new laws that give police undefined powers.
We brought together a panel of health and legal experts, mothers of people who have been killed by police and Rose Jackson, the NSW Minister for Mental Health.
Australasian Lawyer reported on our efforts to resist new police search legislation.
CEO Jonathon Hunyor spoke to the National Indigenous Times about proposed new police search powers.
CEO Jonathon Hunyor spoke to the Guardian about proposed new powers for police.
We're hosting a forum to examine alternative responses to mental health crisis.

Every donation helps build a fairer, stronger society.

Keep up to date with our work

Subscribe for updates including media coverage, event invitations and progress stories. You will hear from us about twice a month.