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Police Set Scene for More Relational Approach to Crime

Police Set Scene for More Relational Approach to Crime Reduction

“The Police are setting the scene for a change in the way government agencies reduce crime”, says Rethinking Crime spokesperson Kim Workman. He was referring to the Dompost article of 8 Feb ‘Killing Gangs with Kindness”, in which the Police Minister announced a new approach to dealing with gangs.
This approach involves building circles of trust with those gang members that want something different for their children, and themselves. It focuses on strategies such as parenting programmes, early childhood education, out-of–school activities, and directing gang members toward work, health and addiction services, and educational opportunities. It also targets those gang members actively engaged in crime.

“Justice Reform advocates have been proposing this approach for some years now – but there has been a reluctance to do anything that doesn’t look ‘tough on crime’. But when approaches of this kind reduce gang related crime by 73%, as happened in New York, the public will support it. The Police Minister and Deputy Commissioner Mike Bush must be congratulated.”

“But something else is happening. This is one of a series of initiatives introduced by the Police, which relies for its success on developing positive relationships with those within gangs and the community that want positive change. The Police, because of their daily contact with the community, understand better than most justice sector agencies that offender transformation doesn’t happen within treatment programmes.

The locus for behavioural change lies not within individuals undergoing cognitive behavioural programmes – it truly happens when families, whanau are involved and are there to hold offenders accountable, and provide the support necessary for change to occur. Most institutional programmes don’t factor in that support.”

“It is therefore important to ensure that resources are channelled into community and voluntary organisations that have access to willing community members and volunteers who can support change. Last week we saw the demise of the Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Trust, after 130 years of faithful service to the community. As such groups are carved out of the action, rehabilitation and reintegration resources are being redirected to clinicians and private health providers. They will only do what they are paid to do. The social value offered by civil society and not-for-profit organisations is being lost”.

“What I think the Police understand better than anyone else, is that changes don’t occur through policies of suppression and control. They occur through building relationships and networks, which support offenders and prisoners, long after they are offend, receive treatment, or are released from prison. If those networks are in place, then it is possible for primary prevention to occur, which in turn leads to a genuine reduction of social harm within the community.”

Read Rethinking’s view of the Gang Policy at: http://www.rethinking.org.nz/assets/Print_Newsletters/B>


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