RMIT University’s Centre for Innovative Justice and the Community Crime Prevention Unit recently hosted a workshop in Melbourne with Professor David Kennedy and Rachel Locke from the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) at John Jay College in New York.

The workshop, titled ‘Can police and communities prevent violence by working together?’ drew a diverse audience with representatives from Victoria Police, the Department of Justice and Regulation, academics and various local councils and community groups attending.

The practical session gave attendees the opportunity to learn about the innovative approaches adopted by the NNSC, both within the US and internationally, to implement proven strategic interventions to reduce violence and improve public safety, minimise arrest and incarceration, strengthen communities and improve relationships between law enforcement and the community.

The core principle behind their approach is that police should focus their energy and resources on the small number of people causing the most harm in the community, rather than those who are considered ‘at risk’ more generally – referred to as ‘precision policing’. The police and respected community members offer support for these individuals to move away from offending, while simultaneously cautioning them that they will face the full force of the law if they don’t change their behaviour. This approach is sometimes referred to as ‘focused deterrence’. The methods have been used in a number of cities in the US facing high levels of harm from violent offending, and have resulted in significant reductions in serious crime, particularly gang-related firearm homicides.

The session included a lively discussion on how these methods could potentially be used to strengthen the capacity of police and communities to work together to prevent violence in Victoria.

To learn more about David and Rachel’s work at the NNSC, visit the National Network for Safe Communities (External link) website. 

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