Restoring Order: Crime prevention, policing and local justice in Queensland's Indigenous communities


Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the issues of relations between police and Indigenous people, the detention of Indigenous people in police custody and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people within the criminal justice system have been emblematic in Indigenous affairs in Australia. The events that triggered this inquiry -the aftermath of the death of Cameron Doomadgee (Mulrunji) in the police watch-house on Palm Island, and the rioting against police that occurred in Aurukun in January 2007 following allegations of police assault on a man detained in a watch-house – focused on these issues in Queensland’s Indigenous communities in particular. In February 2007 the Government of Queensland asked the Crime and Misconduct Commission to examine issues relating to policing in Indigenous communities and make recommendations with respect to three terms of reference: i) possible changes to existing police policy and procedure that would result in improved relations between the Queensland Police Service and Indigenous communities; ii) current practices relating to detention in police custody in remote communities, including the monitoring of detainees in watchhouses and other police facilities in Indigenous communities and the possible involvement of community justice groups or other civilians in the monitoring of detainees; and, iii) the optimal use of existing and future state resources to deliver criminal justice services in Indigenous communities. This report details research and recommendations and argues that the task of reducing crime and violence in Indigenous communities is central to improving relations between the community members and police, reducing Indigenous overrepresentation in the justice system and optimising the use of criminal justice resources. Six guiding principles underlie recommendations for 51 action items: maintenance and improvement of a focus on crime prevention; incorporation of local justice in the criminal justice system; strong local level planning; support for local police to play a key role; timely and strategic evaluations, monitoring and reporting; and a willingness to innovate.

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