The Use and Impact of Police Diversion for Reducing Indigenous Over-Representation
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While police cautioning and police referred conferencing are widely used throughout Australia, there has been little research on their impact on Indigenous young people. Limited evidence suggests that Indigenous young people are less likely to be diverted than non-Indigenous young people and that Indigenous young people are more likely to have recontacted than non-Indigenous young people, regardless of the juvenile justice system response. The report addresses the extent of Indigenous over-representation in the Queensland juvenile justice system, considers the comparative rates of diversion for Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people, and the impact of police diversion on recontact with the juvenile justice system. The 1990 Queensland birth cohort and young individuals having contact with the juvenile justice system through police caution, conferencing or court appearance formed the basis for analysis. Over-representation of Indigenous young people was confirmed and found to increase at succeeding stages of the criminal justice system, with Indigenous young people also having a greater number of contacts. Previous findings of under-representation of Indigenous young people in diversion were confirmed, while it was shown that young people subject to a caution or to conferencing at their first offence were less likely to have further contact with the system than young people with a finalised court appearance. Further research is needed to tease out reasons for disparities in the use of police diversion and the impact of diversion at subsequent contacts with the juvenile justice system. Early intervention, increased use of diversion for first time, low risk offenders, and intensive intervention to prevent recontact are indicated as policy responses.
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