Models of best practice: Aboriginal community patrols in Western Australia


The intention of this discussion paper is to explore best practice issues in relation to Aboriginal Community Patrols in Western Australia in the context of crime prevention and community safety. Aboriginal Community Patrols have become an accepted feature of localised responses to crime and anti-social behaviour in many Aboriginal communities across the state. They represent a key, if not always sufficiently acknowledged, component of the state’s crime prevention strategy in Aboriginal communities. There are currently 20 Patrols funded at various levels by the Department of Indigenous Affairs, and their funding has ensured a continuity of service. The role played by Patrols in the management of local security, has been recognised in a number of recent high level inquiries. This paper discusses a range of issues connected with the role of Patrols in crime prevention. To achieve their full potential, Aboriginal patrols need to be part of a holistic and integrated localised response to crime and disorder, rather than as stand-alone organisations fulfilling an essentially para-policing function. In particular, patrols need to be situated within an expanded network of Aboriginal community justice mechanisms, where they act to divert Indigenous people away from contact with the formal criminal justice system into alternative community owned, as opposed to simply community based, networks of care and support – a process underway in other states and territories. The notion of best practice itself needs to be radically reconfigured in a way which foregrounds Aboriginal values, beliefs and practices and strengthens Aboriginal culture.

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