Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Prevention not punishment approach urged

A victims of crime advocate says modern societies need to shift their focus from punishing criminals, to preventing crime in the first place.

Dr Irvin Waller will be a keynote speaker at the National Victims of Crime Conference which opens in Adelaide this morning.

He says directing more police resources to crime prevention programs could reduce violent crime by up to 40 per cent within a decade.

"The evidence is incredibly strong that trying to catch people one at a time and punish them is extraordinarily expensive to taxpayers and expensive to potential victims and does not give us the sorts of results that being smart about investing in prevention, that reducing the number of victims would give us," he said.

"What we need to do is use current police resources to focus much more on how they can intervene more effectively, at the same time as going after the very well known list of risk factors that lead young men into very dangerous and sustained offending."

Michael Dawson from the Victim Support Service says today's conference will look at how to help victims deal with their trauma, as well as how to minimise the number of victims by reducing crime.

Mr Dawson says Governments need to adopt long-term programs to identify and assist those people who are most likely to commit crime.

"We believe that there needs to be policies in place which facilitate and encourage those sorts of developments in a society, rather than one that is hell-bent on conflict and aggression and punishment," he said.

Quote: Preventing crime also means addressing environmental factors like public spaces, public housing. As well as social factors like welfare, poverty, social skills, social responsibility, anti-provocation and street-wise skills, at the earliest intervention.

'Potential victims' who have knowledge like Life Skills, Social Skills, Communication Skills, Conflict Resolution Skills, Street Wise Skills, and Anti-Provocation Skills can prevent them from becoming potential victims. But the focus has to 'equally' be about 'preventing potential offenders' and 'preventing people from becoming potential victims'.

Offenders rely nine tenths of the time on a person’s 'vulnerability' to commit a crime. Therefore to prevent potential victims becoming so then we give them the skills not to be vulnerable just like we give the skills to potential offenders. Once these people aquire these skills only then can they pass them on to their respective children.

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