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Interactions Between Police and Young People

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2009
This report presents the results of three separate but related police-youth studies which examined different aspects of relations between police and young people in Australia.
Results from the Crime and Misconduct Commission's (CMC's) complaint analysis found that (1) 60 percent of young people were participating in some type of criminal behavior prior to their interaction with police; and (2) young people who did make complaints against police were most likely to take issue with the way they were spoken to or handled by police. Results of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the University of Queensland (UQ) studies on school-based intervention programs and risk-taking behavior among young people indicate that after the intervention there was some reduction in self-reported risk-taking behaviors. In examining the overall perception of police and images of police, the UQ study found that young people's responses to the intervention program varied, suggesting that changing young people's perceptions of and attitudes towards police was not straightforward. Although none of the studies provided definitive answers to improve relations between police and young people, all three increased the understanding of the nature and complexity of these relations. In 2004, CMC, UQ, and QUT were jointly awarded an Australian Research Council Linkage Project grant to address the gap in the nature of relations between police and young people and examine factors influencing relations between police and young people. Additional research funds were received from Injury Prevention and Control Australia to explore risk-taking behavior among young people. This report presents findings from each of these studies and the implications for improving relations between police and young people. Tables, figures, and references