Page 184 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 9 February 2022

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MR BRADDOCK (Yerrabi) (3.37): As I have previously stated in this Assembly, the ACT Greens believe that everyone has a right to live in a safe, peaceful community, free from crime, free from fear of violence. We do not believe this goal would be met through increasing the size of the police force. This is one of those situations where it is tempting to respond to a difficult, complex problem with easy, common-sense solutions. The trouble here is that the assumption does not stand up to scrutiny. A more boots-on-the-ground response is simple, easy to understand but not what is required. There is a very strong evidence base for this statement, which I encourage Mr Hanson to acquaint himself with. The evidence shows that increased police numbers do not necessarily reduce crime and, in many cases, unless carefully deployed, can lead to further criminalisation.

Following the evidence trail, the ACT government should continue to pursue justice reinvestment processes to address the systemic causes of crime, for the benefit of the whole community. To do this, we need interagency coordination to address the social and economic circumstances that increase people’s risk of both committing a crime and becoming a victim of crime. By addressing the social determinants of crime, we stop people becoming involved in crime. By policing more, we simply repeat the mistakes of the past.

This focus was supported by the deputy commissioner in his comments to the justice and community safety committee last year, when he said:

It is also important when we do this, responding to community problems, that we do not look at it just through a policing lens. It is important that we use services across all ACT directorates to solve the problem.

Through my experience, sometimes it does not actually start out as a justice problem; it might start out as a health problem or a housing problem or even an education problem. So we have to work with everyone to address the issues and come together to find a solution. To be frank, I think that the best solution in most instances is not justice; it is something previous to that.

Often what is needed is peer support, restorative justice, social workers, drug and alcohol counsellors and rehabilitation programs. These are the evidence-based paths to reduce crime, reduce recidivism and increase community safety. In particular, we should prioritise investment into programs for people exiting detention, to support their transition back into the community and to reduce the rates of recidivism.

Our Building Communities, Not prisons Program aims to do exactly that. This program aims to support and enhance the work of ACT Policing and all the other institutions involved in the justice system in a holistic way and focuses on prevention. It is why I am so eager to hear the latest developments for the Justice Reintegration Centre, which will support detainees transitioning back into the community, to reduce their recidivism. This will be done through trauma and relationship counselling, alcohol and tobacco and drug rehabilitation, skills and job training and other forms of individually tailored assistance.

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