Responding to homelessness
The Queensland Police Service is committed to identifying strategies to assist interactions with socially vulnerable people. Under the Government’s Responding to Homelessness Strategy 2005-09, six QPS Police Liaison Officer positions were funded in Cairns, Townsville and Mt Isa. An evaluation of the strategy found these positions helped homeless people access a range of support services and helped address the causes of their homelessness. This in turn helped reduce the arrest rates for homeless people and increased feelings of public safety.
The Service has also formed the QPS Homelessness Reference Group which is a mechanism for peak homelessness organisations and QPS members to work together to address police-related homelessness issues and improve police training, policies and practices where necessary. As well, the Service is a signatory to the Early Intervention in Public Spaces Protocol. The protocol operates in Brisbane Central and South Brisbane police districts and clarifies the role each organisation plays in protecting and managing public space.
The Homeless Persons Court Diversion (HPCD) Program pilot commenced in May 2006. In February 2009, the role of the HPCD was expanded and renamed the Special Circumstances Court Diversion Program (SCP).
Special Circumstances Court Diversion Program
The QPS collaborates with other government and nongovernment agencies to implement this program.
The Special Circumstances Court (SCP) operates in central Brisbane and hears matters encompassing people with a mental illness, intellectual disability or cognitive impairment, in addition to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. This important initiative helps divert offenders from further contact with the justice system and addresses the underlying causes of their offending behaviour which reduces repeat offending.
Since the inception of the HPCD and SCP, 1 330 offenders have participated in the program.