Youth Justice Conferencing and police referrals: The gatekeeping role of police in Queensland, Australia
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Youth justice conferencing in Queensland, Australia relies on the discretionary referral of young offenders by the police. The low rate of police referrals to conferencing is an ongoing concern for conference organizers. The research presented in this study explored Queensland police officers' training, experience, understandings of youth justice conferencing, and their individual discretionary policing style. The impact of these factors on officers' attitudes towards conferencing and their reported likelihood of referring to conference were examined. One hundred eighty-four Queensland police officers stationed in police regions where conferencing was available participated in the study. Of these officers, 15 percent had never heard of conferencing. Of officers who had heard of conferencing, 35 percent had received training, 21 percent had referred a young person to a conference, and 20 percent had attended a conference. Officers' understandings of conferencing were significantly related to their reported likelihood of referring a young person to a conference. The results indicated that to increase police referrals of young people to conferences, police need to be exposed (both through training and attendance) to the philosophy of and procedures involved in conferencing.
Journal of Criminal Justice
Copyright 2004 Elsevier. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.