A wonderful partnership between Police, Micah Projects and the community aimed at young homeless in the CBD has been acknowledged this week by the Australian Institute of Criminology with the presentation of a Police Meritorious Certificate at Parliament House Canberra as part of the Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards.
Youth Cultural Hot Spot Patrols consisting of first response police officers, Police Liaison Officers and a culturally specific youth worker from Micah Projects commenced in June 2012 tasked to seek out youth at risk at peak times at the locations where youth sleep rough in the CBD. Their challenge was to connect, divert and engage otherwise highly service resistant young people who at the time were accessing homeless services without engaging, causing concerns for public amenity and safety, and occupying public space to the detriment of others.
Joint patrols contacted young people in parks, squats and public space who otherwise do not engage with services and who feature as both victims and perpetrators of crime. Often the group was found to consist of young people from specific cultural or ethnic groups. For example a scan of the most recent group identified links to the Pacific Islander community in the Logan area and the response was tailored to suit. Front line police work side by side with a specifically selected local youth worker aligned with the culture and community of origin of the group of young people active at the time.
Youth Cultural Hot Spot Patrols have been successful in binding together front line police, Police Liaison Officers and Non Government Youth workers to deliver highly effective after hours outreach to young people in Brisbane. Hot Spot patrols have contributed significantly to the reduction in police calls for service and crime occurrences in target locations. The referral and connection rate for this group of service resistant young people has improved dramatically. The public operational partnership between cultures, front line police, government and non government agencies has provided a workbook for assertive intervention and engagement of young people who feature highly in crime and risky behaviour.
City police have been seen to reach out to the community together with partnered services in a manner that has built an understanding of the difficulties faced by young people sleeping rough in the CBD. The complex issues associated with youth at risk in the CBD have been highlighted in a positive manner by the willingness of police to initiate a community connection that acknowledged culture as a legitimate driver of positive change. Funded for the last year by the Community Crime Prevention Fund, the initiative is currently looking for future fundiong to continue this worthwhile effort.
The project has also been the recipient of:
2013 Child Protection Award for outstanding Community Initiative
Bronze Commissioners Award For Excellence 2014
Finalist – Queensland Cultural Diversity Awards 2014
Feature story – Channel Seven News “Making a Difference”