The State’s most prolific repeat offenders will be the focus of a major forum in Perth today which aims to divert West Australians away from a life of crime.
Police Minister Rob Johnson said the State Government was determined to break the cycle many young and adult offenders found themselves trapped in, which involved repeat offending and regular incarceration.
Mr Johnson said he had initiated the Integrated Offender Management Forum to bring together more than 80 representatives from WA Police, Government agencies, mining companies and non-profit organisations to build on the success of the WA Police Prolific and Priority Offender (PPO) program.
The Minister said the PPO program, together with other law and order initiatives, had played a significant role in decreasing WA’s crime rate over the past two years.
“The PPO program has been critical in tackling volume crime at a district level, by focusing on disrupting and preventing crime by the small number of persistent offenders who commit the majority of crime,” he said.
“The latest crime statistics show that reported crime has dropped dramatically during the past two years.
“There was a massive decrease of 12.7 per cent in 2009-10 compared to 2008-09, with the most significant reductions in burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and property damage.
“Offences against the person and against property also significantly decreased, meaning WA had nearly 26,000 fewer victims of crime last year.”
There are three key interlocking strands to the PPO program:
1. Prevent and Deter - aims to stop young people from engaging in offending behaviour and graduating to become the PPOs of the future
2. Catch and Convict - aims to prevent PPOs from offending by apprehending and convicting them, and returning them swiftly to the courts if they continue to offend
3. Rehabilitate and Resettle - aims to rehabilitate PPOs already in custody or serving their sentence in the community, through close work between relevant agencies and post-sentence support.
Mr Johnson said WA Police had already been working at the grassroots level to deflect the criminal tendencies of young PPOs towards more meaningful activities, particularly in Gosnells and Broome.
“Gosnells PCYC has steered several young offenders who were known for burglary and car theft in that area, and who were lacking in education and did not fit in the school system, away from their criminal activities,” he said.
“They’ve done this through an intensive mentoring program and have focused on the strengths of these youths, rather than detention.
“The program has been so successful that the youths concerned have been virtually transformed into young people who are now schooled and engaged in worthwhile activities in the PCYC environment, and have regressed their offending behaviour.”
The Minister said since 2009, WA Police in southern districts had also achieved excellent results in their concentrated efforts to disrupt the activities of PPOs.
“Police have adopted a range of strategies, including identifying who the PPOs are in their districts, conducting regular bail curfew checks, following up court dates for PPOs and responding immediately to court breaches, implementing more stringent bail conditions, as well as conducting targeted covert and overt operations,” he said.
“The results have been outstanding, with police in the South East Metropolitan District achieving a 22 per cent reduction in burglaries to July this year through curfew checks on PPOs in the area.
“Similarly in the South Metropolitan District, police have carried out curfew checks during peak social periods across the weekend, leading to a 21 per cent decrease in motor vehicle theft in 2009-10.
“Even though these results for PPOs are extremely positive, we need to do more to mitigate their offending behaviour, particularly in the ‘prevent and deter’ and the ‘rehabilitate and resettle’ areas by supporting offenders and at-risk families.
“Managing PPOs is a complex matter and the prevention, detection and rehabilitation of this group of offenders is a problem that belongs to the whole community.
“I am confident that this forum will allow us to move towards addressing the problem of repeat offending and assist in the development of better policies and programs to turn many offenders away from a life of crime.”
Minister's office - 9222 9211