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CRC funded reports


Summaries of these reports are given below. These reports are held by the Australian Institute of Criminology's JV Barry Library and are available on inter-library loan. For full bibliographic information on any report, search the Library's Catalogue.

  1. CRG 31/11-12: Reporting Victimisation to LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) Police Liaison Services: A mixed methods study across two Australian states
  2. CRG 43/13-14: Investigating serious violent crime: what works, what doesn't and for what crime types?
  3. CRG 09/14-15: Aboriginal prisoners with cognitive impairment – Is this the highest risk group?
  4. CRG 31/14-15: Surveillance technologies and crime control; understanding offenders’ perspectives on police body-worn video (BWV) cameras and CCTV
  5. CRG 51/13-14: Negotiating guilty pleas: an empirical analysis
  6. CRG 07/12-13: Young Women from African Backgrounds and Sexual Violence
  7. CRG 18/14-15: Prevent crime and save money: Return-on-investment models in Australia
  8. CRG 18/13-14: Who is responsible for child maltreatment?
  9. CRG 20/14-15: ‘Intoxication’ and Australian Criminal Law: Implications for Addressing Alcohol and Other Drug-Related Harms and Risks
  10. CRG 23/13-14: Understanding and responding to victimisation of whistleblowers

CRG 31/11-12: Reporting Victimisation to LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) Police Liaison Services: A mixed methods study across two Australian states

Angela Dwyer, Matthew Ball, Christine Bond, Murray Lee, Thomas Crofts
Criminology Research Grant: CRG 31/11-12

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) police liaison programs were established around Australia from the late 1980s onwards to ameliorate the historically discriminatory relationships between LGBTI people and police. Police liaison officers are trained to know about LGBTI issues and are typically available for LGBTI people to seek support from in circumstances where they have been a victim, an offender, or even a witness to a crime. Interestingly, very few LGBTI people seek support from these officers when they need it (Berman and Robinson 2010), even though amongst LGBTI people there is a considerable awareness of these services being available.

CRG 43/13-14: Investigating serious violent crime: what works, what doesn't and for what crime types?

Angela Higginson, Elizabeth Eggins, Lorraine Mazerolle
Criminology Research Grant:  CRG 43/13-14

Serious violent crime is a persistent and significant criminal justice issue (see Eisner, 2003; Fuller, 2013; Truman, Langton, & Planty, 2013; Wallace et al., 2009). In 2003 and 2008, the Australian Institute of Criminology delivered a clear message: despite the relatively low number of incidents compared to non-violent crime, serious violent crime offences account for a substantial portion of the costs of crime in Australia (Mayhew, 2003; Rollings, 2008). Moreover, a number of scholars have demonstrated a decline in police clearance of serious violent crime over recent decades (Horvath et al., 2001; Litwin & Xu, 2007; Riedel, 2008). Although investigation and responding to serious violent crime are core components of police work, the evidence-base for police investigative techniques for serious violent crime lacks the level of evaluation and synthesis seen for other policing interventions which have been predominantly assessed according to their impact on general crime and disorder.

This systematic review aims to redress this imbalance by conducting the first ever systematic review focusing on the effectiveness of techniques that police use to investigate serious violent crime. Our review examines the evidence on police investigative techniques for serious violent crime to determine what works, what doesn’t, and for what crime types. Specifically, we systematically evaluate the impact of police investigative techniques on key police outcomes in the context of serious violent crime: offender identification, arrests, elicitation of confessions, convictions and case closure.

CRG 09/14-15: Aboriginal prisoners with cognitive impairment – Is this the highest risk group?

Stephane M. Shepherd, James R. P. Ogloff, Yin Paradies, Jeffrey Pfeifer
Criminology Research Grant: CRG 09/14-15

This study investigated the prevalence of cognitive impairment and its associations with mental health, cultural needs and offending for a representative cohort (N = 122) of adult Indigenous offenders in custody.

Results revealed an over-representation of cognitively impaired prisoners in the sample (22%). The prevalence of mental illness was exceptionally high, and so there was a large minority with concomitant illness/disability.

Given the widely publicised custodial overrepresentation and social disadvantages endured by Indigenous Australians, there was an expectation that Indigenous status and its associated risk factors would potentially preclude differentiation by level of cognitive impairment. This was true for several social and emotional wellbeing and custodial needs. However, possessing a cognitive disability was connected to poorer outcomes for participants in a number of areas.

Indigenous offenders with cognitive impairment were more susceptible to harmful coping mechanisms in the face of stressors such as drug and alcohol abuse. They were also more likely to perceive discrimination, have family members in custody and have trouble managing acute emotions compared to non cognitively impaired offenders.

The cognitively impaired subgroup were more likely to re-offend, were younger at first offence, and had greater numbers of prior offences.
Findings signal the need for culturally themed disability assistance and diversionary options at all levels of the criminal justice system.

CRG 31/14-15: Surveillance technologies and crime control; understanding offenders’ perspectives on police body-worn video (BWV) cameras and CCTV

Alexandra Gannoni, Matthew Willis, Emmeline Taylor, Murray Lee

Criminology Research Grant:  CRG 31/14-15

The use of surveillance technologies, in the form of closed-circuit television (CCTV) and police body-worn video cameras (BWCs), has become a feature of crime prevention and detection and plays an important role in police operations. While CCTV is in widespread use throughout Australia, evidence on the effectiveness of the technology for deterrence and detection and possible displacement remains mixed. There is also little evidence on the effectiveness of BWCs and their impact on interactions between police and members of the public. For both CCTV and BWCs there is a lack of evidence about how people who are acted against by the police perceive surveillance technology and whether it influences their crime-related decisions and behaviour at the time of arrest.

This study aimed to increase understanding of the perceptions and impacts of CCTV and BWCs through interviews with 899 adult police detainees, using an addendum to the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) program. Detainees were interviewed during the second half of 2015 at police watchhouses in four Australian state capital cities - Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.

Police detainees tended to regard CCTV as effective in reducing crime, particularly violent crime, but a significant number felt it would not prevent any crime. CCTV deterred some from committing crime, but had no deterrent effect for a substantial proportion. Detainees identified a range of simple strategies for avoiding surveillance cameras, such as covering their face or turning away from cameras. Findings suggest that police detainees are largely supportive of the use of police BWCs, but this was predicated on a number of operational and procedural requirements. The responses of detainees highlighted the need for evidence-based policy on the deployment of BWCs, in particular the need for clear guidelines and protocols about how and when they are operated.

CRG 51/13-14: Negotiating guilty pleas: an empirical analysis

Asher Flynn, Arie Freiberg
Criminology Research Grant:  CRG 51/13-14

Across Australian criminal jurisdictions, the most frequent method of case finalisation is not a contested trial, but through the accused entering a plea of guilty. Within this context, negotiated guilty pleas have taken on a more prominent and significant role in the delivery of modern day ‘justice’. This report provides an empirical account of current plea negotiation practices in the state of Victoria, including documenting the frequency of plea negotiations, identifying the different forms of plea negotiation and common resolution outcomes, and discussing the processes involved in reaching an agreement.

The study involved the development of a dataset of negotiated guilty pleas through a comprehensive mixed qualitative and quantitative analysis of Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) de-identified case files that had resolved by guilty pleas; conducting 48 qualitative, in-depth interviews with police prosecutors, Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) solicitors, Crown prosecutors, defence practitioners (VLA employees and those in private practice) and judicial officers; as well as carrying out consultations with key legal stakeholders.

CRG 07/12-13: Young Women from African Backgrounds and Sexual Violence

Service providers have recently reported increasing numbers of young African women accessing unplanned pregnancy and relationship services, with related concerns about domestic violence. This research explores how young women, aged 18 to 25 years, from African refugee and migrant backgrounds understand and experience sexual coercion and violence, and how service providers respond to their needs.

The study drew on an online survey of service providers, individual and group interviews with young women from African backgrounds, and focus groups with service providers. The researchers faced challenges due to the sensitive nature of the topic of sexual violence and the silence that surrounds it, but achieved interviews and focus groups involved 21 young women.  They found no agreement among the young women about what constitutes sexual violence, which was mostly defined in terms of stranger rape. Concerns about community judgement and exclusion, arising from stigma associated with sexual violence and the myths, beliefs and attitudes surrounding it created barriers for young women from African backgrounds speaking about men’s sexualised behaviour. These barriers were compounded by other barriers such as language, transport, caring responsibilities, work/study commitments and other settlement issues.

Service providers’ input to the study highlighted the need for future service efforts being directed towards education and awareness raising, using culturally appropriate methods and sites. There is a need for increased cultural sensitivity and responsiveness of organisational and worker practices to improve their capability of working with young people from African backgrounds, together with specialist sexual violence responses for younger women in their early teens.

CRG 18/14-15: Prevent crime and save money: Return-on-investment models in Australia

Jess Heerde, John Toumbourou, Sheryl Hemphill, Ha Le, Todd Herrenkohl, Richard Catalano

Criminology Research Grant: CRG 18/14-15

Finding effective ways to prevent crime is important. This project was designed to demonstrate the feasibility of combining data from a 10-year Australian longitudinal study with prevention strategy investment data to estimate potential returns in reducing intimate partner violence and prison entry in Australia. The project investigated the return-on-investment in Victoria achievable with a $150 million investment in a mix of 6 evidence-based prevention strategies. For those of average age 25 (range 21 to 29) across Victoria the annual incarceration rate (any police or court apprehension) was estimated at 3.5% (1.0% for 1-day or more) and involvement in intimate partner violence involving physical force was 8.5% (causing physical injury was 3.0%). The 10-year lag effect of investing an extra $150 million was estimated to be a reduction in 2015 of 1,624 cases of incarceration (5% reduction) and 3,034 cases of intimate partner violence involving physical force (10% reduction). The net return from the $150 million prevention investment was conservatively estimated at $191 million. It appears feasible and cost-effective to prevent problems such as intimate partner violence, while also reducing incarceration rates.

CRG 18/13-14: Who is responsible for child maltreatment?

Emily Hurren, Carleen Thompson, Brian Jenkins, April Chrzanowski, Troy Allard,Anna Stewart
Criminology Research Grant: CRG 18/13-14

This is the first large longitudinal study in Australia focused on the perpetrators of child maltreatment. The study explored maltreatment perpetration by a cohort of individuals born in 1983 and 1984. The data were administrative records regarding individuals’ (N=3,217) substantiated contacts with the Queensland child protection system as perpetrators from the age of 10 to 30 years. Results provide a life-course profile of maltreatment perpetrators and illustrate considerable perpetration heterogeneity with reference to age, gender, race, perpetrator-victim relationships and maltreatment characteristics. Meaningful proportions of individuals had multiple victims, and multiple contacts with the child protection system, indicating many opportunities for intervention. The heterogeneity of maltreatment pathways over time means that interventions could potentially be targeted based on the diverse characteristics of perpetrators and their maltreatment. Indigenous Australians were markedly overrepresented as maltreatment perpetrators, highlighting the need to ensure that interventions are appropriate, accessible and effective for Indigenous Australians. There is an ongoing need for additional longitudinal research using perpetrators as the unit of analysis.

CRG 20/14-15: ‘Intoxication’ and Australian Criminal Law: Implications for Addressing Alcohol and Other Drug-Related Harms and Risks

Julia Quilter, Luke McNamara, Kate Seear, Robin Room
Criminology Research Grant: CRG 20/14-15

‘Alcohol-fuelled violence’ has been a concerted focus of recent criminal justice policy debates and legal reform. This study was motivated by the prominence of an essentialised paradigm that claims a direct causal relationship between use of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) and crimes of violence and other offending, and asserts that AOD should routinely be regarded as an aggravating factor. This approach belies the wide variety of ways in which AOD ‘intoxication’ features in the content and operation of Australian criminal laws. The study analysed more than 500 crime-related statutory provisions which attach significance to a person’s ‘intoxication’, and more than 300 court decisions involving evidence that the accused, the victim or a witness was ‘intoxicated’ at the time of the alleged offence. These analyses found that significance is attached to ‘intoxication’ for a wide variety of criminal justice purposes – including to enliven police powers, to evaluate the veracity of witness testimony, to assess criminal responsibility and to determine punishment. In both statutory formulations and criminal court adjudication, there is a widespread problem of under-definition and imprecision as to meaning. ‘Intoxication’ is often assessed on the basis of highly subjective criteria – in contexts as diverse as public order policing and assessments of victim credibility in sexual assault trials. In the absence of legislative guidance, courts tend to assign only a relatively marginal role to medical/scientific expert evidence, and frame the question of whether a person was relevantly ‘intoxicated’ as one that can be answered by applying ‘common knowledge’ about AOD effects. Given the magnitude of the consequences that can flow from criminal justice decisions, the study recommends that consideration be given to standardising definitions of ‘intoxication’, with greater attention paid to evidence-based insights drawn from the scientific and social scientific literature.

CRG 23/13-14: Understanding and responding to victimisation of whistleblowers

Inez Dussuyer, Russell G Smith, Anona Armstrong, Kumi Heenatigala
Criminology Research Grant: CRG 23/13-14

Without the initiative of whistleblowers, much wrongdoing would remain undetected and could continue. But being a whistleblower can be risky.  It can have negative consequences for those who speak up in the public interest about wrongdoing. This study sought to understand the experiences of whistleblowers who reported or tried to report wrongdoing in their workplace. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 36 whistleblowers from the public and private sectors and with 21 people who dealt with the reports from whistleblowers.

The results showed that the whistleblowers experienced a range of negative consequences after reporting wrongdoing, and which sometimes persisted long after having blown the whistle. Whistleblowers reported retaliation and reprisals including loss of employment, disciplinary action and ostracism as well as negative financial and psychological impacts. The results also identified a lack of welfare support in the workplace for whistleblowers and that legislative protection for whistleblowers was perceived to be ineffective to prevent victimisation. In terms of suggestions that could make the experience of blowing the whistle better, these included improvements in the management of work place culture, effective implementation of workplace policies to support whistleblowers, streamlining the processes and procedures for reporting misconduct and giving due recognition and compensation for whistleblowers for having spoken up.

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