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CRC funded reports

1977-1978

The Council received reports from 5 completed research projects during the year 1977-78. Summaries of these reports are given below. These reports are held by the Australian Institute of Criminology's JV Barry Library and are available on inter-library loan. For full bibliographic information on any report, search the Library's Catalogue.

  1. Crime and police in Port Moresby
  2. Young offenders in Victoria
  3. Police stress
  4. The effects of role-reversal in a simulated prison experiment
  5. Sexually explicit materials and serious crime

Crime and police in Port Moresby

Report title: Crime in Port Moresby
Grantee: Mr M.L. Mackellar, Magistrate of the District Court, Papua New Guinea
Criminology Research Council grant ; (9/74)

This report of 165 pages contains the detailed results of analyses of the geographical distribution of crime in Port Moresby, the ethnic origins of offenders, and the workloads of the courts. Police practices are also reviewed. The author's summary is as follows:

In 1975 Port Moresby had a serious crime problem. The nature of the crimes committed within the city was generally not serious, for such offences as murder, rape and robbery were rare. What made the problem serious was the vast number of individually trivial offences which collectively produced a case loading so great that the established police and court resources could not cope with it, and while the courts were clogged with trivial cases, the more worrying offences of car theft and housebreaking largely went unsolved. Whilst misdirection of police effort to a considerable extent aggravated the crime problem in Port Moresby, the citizens themselves contributed to it in their own way by failing in many instances to take even the simplest and most basic precautions. While some residents of the city had repeatedly been victims of crime throughout that year, there were others who had never ever had any offences committed against them, and the probability of becoming a victim of crime was not evenly distributed throughout the city. There were high crime suburbs and low crime suburbs and while some were dangerous to live in, others were safe. Likewise there were high crime times and low crime times, and most offences tended to be committed during weekends.

Neither the declining efficiency in the police force nor the corresponding chaos in the administration of the courts can be attributed to the localisation process. Both police and courts were degenerating under the previous Australian Administration which had introduced legal procedures and processes which even then were inappropriate to the circumstances of Papua New Guinea. At Independence in 1975, the incoming Independent Government inherited a decayed criminal justice system. However, although the crime problem is serious, the remedies are simple. All that IS necessary is for the police to adopt the simple tactics of beat, blitz, check-point, saturation, trojan horse and target and team, and for the residents to take a few simple precautions like keeping their doors locked. All this can be accomplished at no extra cost and can be implemented immediately. Costing nothing, would be a greater simplification of the process and procedures in the existing lower courts, with a corresponding innovation which would require some funding, of the expansion of village courts into all suburbs of Port Moresby. Further innovations which would require funding could be work release programmes for prisoners, weekend jail, community work schemes, probation and parole.

Port Moresby is a small city by world standards. It could easily be converted into a low crime community and a good place in which to live.

Young offenders in Victoria

Report title: Young Offenders (booklet)
Grantee: Mr D. Challinger, Lecturer, Criminology Department, University of Melbourne
Criminology Research Council grant ; (21/75)

This report is in the form of a book of 204 pages published by the Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders. The book is essentially a detailed analysis of information concerning all juvenile offenders officially coming to police attention in Victoria in 1975. The total sample comprised 13,084 cases, of whom 4,364 were the subject of police warnings and were not required to appear in court. Where appropriate, comparisons are made with the results of similar research conducted in Victoria in 1966 and 1972. Chapters in the book deal with: the problem; the official picture; the sample; the offenders; the offenders' families; educational factors; the distribution of offenders; the offences; the delays; and the result of the police contact.

In a postscript Mr Challinger has written:

The data presented in this report provide a solid and factual basis for further consideration of the topic. All too often in criminology, there are complaints about the non-availability of hard statistics on which to elaborate theories, explanations and programmes. Here, then, are such statistics which not only cover 1975 formal police contacts with young offenders, but also compare many features with data collected up to nine years previously. Overall, there is little change in the juvenile offending situation in Victoria in those years. Certainly the numbers of cases formally dealt with by the police have increased but this may well reflect changing police methods rather than an actual increase in such youthful activity. It was mentioned that a 'juvenile crime wave' may be suggested by future police figures compiled after the new Victoria Police Cautioning programme is fully operative. If the expected numerical increase does occur, the media no doubt will give it considerable attention. This in turn may cause a law-abiding youngster to feel he is odd if his anti-social behaviour has not been persistent or serious enough to bring him to police attention. And then, perhaps, the increase in youthful offending may really be established. But for the present, most of the offending that results in formal police contact is directed against property by lower secondary school students whose police contact generally concludes in a salutary, but relatively minor, manner.

Police stress

Report title: Multi-Faceted Aspects of Stress in the Police Forces
Grantee: The Council provided funds for this project in 1976-77 acting on a submission from the Institute following discussions with Commissioners of Police. The project was supervised by the Institute and arrangements were made for a detailed literature review and a research proposal to be prepared under contract.
Criminology Research Council grant ; (38(I)/76)

A 187 page report Multi-Faceted Aspects of Stress in the Police Forces was prepared by Ms Marilyn J. Davidson and Dr Arthur Veno of the Psychology Department, University of Queensland. Honorary consultants to the project were Professor David Ferguson, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, University of Sydney, and Dr Don Byrne, Social Psychiatry Unit, Australian National University.

As indicated by the title of the report, both the literature review and research proposal are based on the assumption that there is not a single dimension of cause or manifestation of stress. The authors emphasise that: '. ..stress, health, job performance, family networks, and friendship networks, form an integrated whole for any individual. Thus the stress from one area can affect the individual which in turn may affect changes in the amount of stress in relationships in other areas. With regard to police, the job is posited as a high stress factor itself.' The research proposal envisages that measures be taken of physical health, personality, and job performance. A modified version of an American questionnaire is also proposed for use.

Copies of the report have been forwarded to all Commissioners of Police in Australia, but no decision has yet been made on whether or not the research will be undertaken.

The effects of role-reversal in a simulated prison experiment

Report title: The Effects of Role-Reversal in a Simulated Prison Experiment
Grantee: Professor S.H. Lovibond, Psychology Department, University of New South Wales
Criminology Research Council grant ; (21/76)

This research was a sequel to an earlier experiment which resulted in the production of a film Four More Days. This film, which was made with financial assistance from the Council, demonstrated that simulated prison regimes which were more democratic and less authoritarian were more effective in terms of inmate control and work output. The current research was designed to test the hypothesis that these results could not be explained by reference to the stereotypes associated with the assigned roles of prison officer or guard. The subjects were randomly assigned to either of these roles for the first two days of the four day experiment, at which time their roles were reversed. The results were interpreted as supporting the view that the subject's behaviour strongly reflects the objective social relations within the prison, and this was seen as providing further support for the proposition that officer/prisoner relations can be improved by the use of different styles of supervision.

Sexually explicit materials and serious crime

Report titles: Reports for the Australian Institute of Criminology under Grant 35/76 Nos 1-7, 10 and Appendix (all in one volume)

Grantee: Dr J.H. Court, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Flinders University of South Australia
Criminology Research Council grant ; (35/76)

Dr Court received a small grant from the Council in 1976-77 in order to provide him with assistance with the analysis of materials he collected during a visit to the United States of America. He submitted seven short reports to the Council.

These reports have assembled considerable evidence which supports the view that the availability of sexually explicit materials has essentially harmful consequences.

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