Under the 2009 Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory National Partnership Agreement, a two year trial (ended 30 June 2013) of sworn Community Engagement Police Officers (CEPOs) in eight remote Indigenous communities was funded by the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department and implemented by the Northern Territory Police. Those communities were: Ali Curung, Galiwinku, Groote Eylandt, Hermannsburg (Ntaria), Lajamanu, Maningrida, Papunya, Wadeye, and Yuendumu. The trial aimed to develop priority community safety issues, build trust, prevent crime and provide diversionary options and better justice outcomes through community policing methods. This report indicates that improvements to community safety can be achieved through police undertaking a range of community engagement activities. The activities undertaken by the CEPOs varied depending on the needs and requests of the community as well as the particular skills of the officer. A comprehensive evaluation of the trial was conducted by Colmar Brunton Social Research. The evaluation assessed the impact of the CEPOs efforts and clearly identified that CEPOs have been very successful across a number of measures with most participants feeling that CEPOs were an invaluable resource for improving community safety. The evaluation also found that CEPOs were perceived to be most successful at: making it easier for the community to get on with the police (because of their intensive community engagement activities); helping services work better together with the police (because the CEPOs provided a consistent proactive police presence); improving safe behaviour (particularly in relation to improving school attendance; and making the community feel safer.
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