Working with vulnerable people
People may come into contact with the criminal justice system as victims, witnesses or defendants. The QPS recognises that this may have significant consequences for vulnerable people and is committed to ensuring appropriate support is available for them as well as developing programs to divert people from the criminal justice system if appropriate.
Vulnerable persons policy
Through its Vulnerable Persons policy, the QPS seeks to:
- reduce crime against vulnerable people and hold offenders accountable for their actions
- support vulnerable people to understand and participate in criminal justice system processes
- treat vulnerable people with dignity, respecting their individual needs, challenges and circumstances
- facilitate access by vulnerable people to appropriate support services, including support persons and victim assistance.
As part of this commitment to service delivery, the QPS has continued to enhance the way it responds to vulnerable people over recent years by:
- improving access to victim support by working with the Victim Support Service
- enhancing the investigation and prosecution process in relation to sexual offences
- improving the treatment of child witnesses
- participating in numerous specialist court programs
- improving training for police and staff members in dealing with vulnerable people including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people with mental illnesses and people with disabilities
- implementing the QPS Disability Services Plan and the Disability Reference Group to oversee the plan’s implementation
- implementing a range of projects involving vulnerable people including the Coordinated Response to Young People at Risk (CRYPAR) and STANDBY, a project to support persons bereaved by suicide.
The Service is currently reviewing its strategies to ensure appropriate service delivery options are available to people with special needs.
The QPS Disability Service Plan came into effect on 1 July 2007 and can be viewed at http://www.police.qld.gov.au/aboutUs/the_service/dsp/default.htm The plan provides a focal point for the initiation of new policy and procedures and enhances the coordination of service delivery to clients and QPS staff with disabilities, their families and carers.
Following a review of the QPS Disability Service Plan in 2009, a communication strategy was implemented to improve the education and awareness of QPS members about the plan. A Disability Services survey will also be conducted to help inform the review of the plan for 2010-2013.
The QPS Homelessness Reference Group meets as required to provide a forum for raising police-related homelessness issues between the QPS and peak homelessness organisations.
The QPS is also represented on the Queensland Homelessness Inter-sectoral Forum. This group comprises government and community sector representatives who collaboratively and actively contribute to better outcomes for Queenslanders who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Mental Health Intervention Project
The Mental Health Intervention Project is a tri-agency partnership between the Queensland Police Service, Queensland Health and the Queensland Ambulance Service which aims to prevent or safely resolve mental health crisis situations.
The project has enhanced the quality of police responses to crisis situations and has reduced the risk of injury to people with a mental illness, staff and other members of the community. It has also helped to provide a better system of diverting people away from the criminal justice system whenever appropriate.
Training police officers in how to appropriately respond to mental health crisis situations is a core component of the project. Mental health intervention first response officer training was provided to 7 443 first response police officers across the state. A further 123 district duty officers and duty supervisors also received training as well as 271 police communication centre staff trained in call-taking and threat assessment techniques.
Approximately 100 police officers have also received mental health first aid training—a nationally accredited and evaluated course which aims to improve knowledge of mental disorders, reduce stigma and provide skills to help respond to people with a mental illness, particularly when in crisis. Further courses will be conducted in the future.
A Road To Somewhere (ARTS)
The Queensland Police Service is committed to working in partnership with other government and non-government agencies to deliver an integrated response to social problems. The Interagency Committee in Oxley police district involves the QPS; the Departments of Communities and Justice and Attorney-General; Education Queensland; the Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security; and the Sir Edmund Rice Foundation.
The ARTS Program has been established by the committee to provide an overarching response to marginalised youth in the Oxley district. The program aims to provide alternative options for the education, employment and overall development of marginalised youth, with the view of diverting them from the criminal justice system. More information on two of these projects—Inala Men’s Shed and Project Exit—can be found on page 80.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex community
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) program is aimed at providing a professional, non discriminatory, accessible policing service to members of LGBTI communities. This is done by developing partnerships, ensuring equality, accountability and professionalism and improving service delivery to members of LGBTI communities.
The QPS has developed a Good Practice Guide For Interaction With Transgender Clients for staff. This resource emphasises the importance of respecting diversity and maintaining confidentiality in police interactions with the transgender community, leading to improved understanding and trust between members of the QPS and the transgender community. It also seeks to reinforce the fundamental rights of non-discrimination and equality within the community.
A pilot LGBTI police liaison officer course was conducted in mid 2010 where 21 police officers statewide were provided with skills and knowledge to assist members of LGBTI communities.
Policing Queensland’s Diversity
The Queensland Government Multicultural Policy Multicultural Queensland-making a world of difference is the blueprint for managing diversity for the benefit of all Queenslanders. This policy requires each government department to produce and publish multicultural action plans demonstrating how they have integrated multicultural principles and practices into core business and to report annually on progress and achievements. The QPS Multicultural Action Plans and reporting are available on the QPS website at http://www.police.qld.gov.au/programs
Cultural liaison/cultural awareness
The Police Liaison Officer (PLO) scheme is an ongoing program which provides a vital liaison and consultation interface between culturally diverse communities and the police. PLOs are not sworn police and do not possess the range of powers authorised for sworn police to use.
There are currently 152 PLO positions throughout the state. While the majority of the positions are occupied by people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, the scheme has now grown to incorporate officers from a number of other backgrounds including the Sudanese/African, Pacific Islander, Muslim/Arabic, Vietnamese, Chinese, Australian South Sea Islander and Japanese communities.
PLOs have been active in a number of programs and projects including the:
- Indigenous Elders Police Patrols in Metropolitan North Region and
- Changing the Cycle crime prevention program in Mornington Island.
Both of these programs have won QPS 2010 Awards for Excellence. PLOs are also active in initiatives such as the Murri Court, the Homelands Project which operates in Cairns and helps address the problem of homelessness with the Indigenous community, and the Queensland Indigenous Alcohol Diversion Program (QIADP).
The Cultural Appreciation Project (CAPro) is designed to enhance the understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures by police. This project commences with recruit training at the Queensland Police Service Academy and also addresses community-specific training for the state’s 19 remote Indigenous communities. In 2010, the project has moved into the next phase of developing training packages for police working with rural and urban Indigenous communities.
Multicultural online learning
The Multicultural Awareness Online Learning Product is an interactive web-based course for police designed to increase police officers’ knowledge of other cultures so they can interact more effectively with the public and colleagues.
Multicultural Quick Reference Guides (QRG)
Multicultural Quick Reference Guides are summaries about communities developed specifically for use by operational police. In 2010, there are 10 QRGs available for police with more being added online throughout 2010-2011.
The guides contain country and community profiles, police multicultural resources, recent police support and initiatives, details of interpreting services, common phrases, a guide to religions, diplomatic and consular support and community organisation contact details.
The Multicultural QRGs project aims to help QPS staff provide the community with more appropriate policing services through greater understanding
Closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage
The QPS has contributed to the Queensland Government’s commitment under the Commonwealth of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Indigenous reform agenda, including the National Indigenous Law and Justice Framework 2009-2015. The Service has also implemented strategies such as enforcement of alcohol management plans (AMP) and provided an additional 29 police officer positions in Indigenous communities.
Individual community AMPs and alcohol supply restrictions are enforced through ‘sly grog’ surveillance using local police and regional Tactical Crime Squads and working with the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation) to enforce regulations for licensed premises in and near Indigenous communities.
Twenty-nine new police officer positions have been created in Indigenous communities. Of these, 25 have already been allocated with the remaining four positions pending completion of infrastructure subject to Indigenous Land Use Agreements (three positions at Bamaga and one at Kowanyama).
The QPS also participates with other agencies in supporting the Queensland Indigenous Alcohol Diversion Program (QIADP), Cape York Welfare Reform trial, Community Justice Groups and Murri Courts.
The Service has provided input into the evaluation and progress of the Justice Agreement through ongoing participation in inter-agency meetings and by ensuring alignment of QPS strategies with the current COAG agenda and proposed COAG justice targets.
Restoring Order: crime prevention, policing and local justice in Queensland’s Indigenous communities
The QPS has also responded to the recommendations of the Crime and Misconduct Commission report Restoring Order: crime prevention, policing and local justice in Queensland’s Indigenous communities. Responses include taking the lead agency role in a review of the Queensland Crime Prevention Strategy with an assessment of options to enhance Indigenous crime prevention initiatives. This will also involve investigating models for engaging local people in law enforcement.
Smart Regulation Reform
In line with the Government’s Smart Regulation Reform Agenda, the Service has appointed a Regulatory Reform Coordinator to manage a program of work to reduce regulation and achieve service delivery efficiencies. The following actions are being undertaken across the Service to ensure the QPS meets its obligations under the Reform Agenda:
- Service-wide consultation to identify where further efficiencies may be made to existing processes and practices, particularly with administrative and procurement procedures
- review of legislation within the Police portfolio to identify where efficiencies may be made in the administration of police powers
- development of Service-specific internal tools and information on regulatory reform
- training across relevant areas of the Service.
The QPS Policelink Contact Centre at Zillmere will enhance service delivery through providing additional ways for the community to contact police to report non-urgent incidents, in particular minor property crime.
By providing the opportunity for community members to report non-urgent matters directly to Policelink, around 260 000 human resource hours will be reinvested in other priorities and proactive functions to the greater benefit of the community.
Policelink will commence operations in August 2010. Its introduction will provide the QPS with the opportunity to introduce the national non-urgent police telephone number – 131 444.
In 2009, the Coomera Police District was created in South Eastern Region in response to the rapidly growing population of the area. The Coomera District Police Headquarters houses specialist branches such as the Child Protection Investigation Unit, Forensic Crash Unit, Dog Squad, Criminal Investigation Branch, Traffic Branch, and Scientific and Forensic Services.
DNA strategy – efficient work practices
In recent years the growing demand for DNA analytical services to assist police investigations has placed considerable pressure on laboratory resources.
QPS Forensic Services has developed a new technique which delivers results to investigating police in around three to four weeks, down from the previous four month turnaround. This rapid reporting of DNA analytical results has great potential to assist investigations from an early stage, deliver resource savings and enhance community safety by resolving crimes in a timely manner. This initiative also won the 2010 QPS Gold Award for Excellence in Policing Operations.