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CRC funded reports

1983-1984

The Council received reports from 15 completed research projects during the year 1983-84. 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 architectural design in Brisbane
  2. Disposition of mentally retarded offenders
  3. Evaluation of Jesuit post-release youth hostel
  4. An investigation of regional differences in the judicial use and perception of probation as a sentencing option in Tasmania
  5. Prisoner perceptions of the prison environment
  6. Community service: an evaluation of the impact of the community service order scheme in Queensland
  7. Multi-problem families
  8. Recidivism rates of violent offenders
  9. The identification of small glass fragments for forensic purposes
  10. Assessing the utility of fines
  11. Crime and society in Western Australia
  12. Evaluation of intensive neighbourhood care program
  13. Literacy skills and needs of inmates of Victorian prisons
  14. Evaluation of a volunteer skills training program in a women's prison
  15. Design guidelines to reduce security and vandalism problems in medium-density housing in Australia

Crime and architectural design in Bisbane

Report titles: Crime and Architecture in Brisbane: A Pilot study of the Relationships between the Crimes of Break and Entry and Vandalism and the Urban and Architectural Environment in four Brisbane Commercial sub-centres (1979); Crime and Architecture in Brisbane II: A Follow-up Study (1980); Crime and Architecture in Brisbane III: A comparative Study of the Relationship between Shop-Breaking and the Physical Environment (1982)
Grantee: Dr G.F. de Gruchy, Reader, Department of Architecture, University of Queensland
Criminology Research Council grant ; (1/78)

In 1978 a research program was developed to examine the incidence and spatial characteristics of burglary and vandalism in four commercial centres located in south-west Brisbane. Because of problems relating to statistical divisions and access to Queensland police files, information was sought directly from premises owners about the incidence of break and entry offences and cases of vandalism by means of a questionnaire and a physical survey of the area under investigation. Questionnaire data covered a five-year period (1974 to 1978), and analysed with the assistance of the University of Queensland PDP-10 computer. Crime incidence was also plotted on a detailed map of each centre.

In summary, the findings of this pilot study were as follows:

  1. that the incidence of break and entry offences was on the increase;
  2. that rear windows and doors were most frequently the point of illegal entry;
  3. that medical premises, including pharmacies, were found to have been burgled almost four times as frequently as all other types of business category;
  4. that low levels of night time surveillance resulted in greater vulnerability;
  5. that victim buildings were found to have low levels of passive security (poor construction and locks, absences of security grilles etc.);
  6. that security alarms, while not reducing the risk of attack nevertheless resulted in reduced value of property stolen;
  7. that there were at least four types of vandalistic activity involved:
    1. removal of, or damage to items left out overnight;
    2. the breaking of glass or sheeting;
    3. graffiti;
    4. damage to signs or lettering;
  8. that most incidents occurred at night or on weekends;
  9. that damage was not expensive to repair;
  10. that only a quarter of the vandalistic acts were reported to the police;
  11. that vandals had no preference for a particular business type;
  12. that vandalised buildings were found to be more prominent in the environment of the commercial centre; had facades with extensive areas of glass fenestration, and were located close to entertainment premises which remained open after dark.

Recommendations arising from the study were as follows:

  1. a change in the Brisbane City Council zoning policies so as to encourage residential development within commercial centres in order to improve natural surveillance;
  2. maintenance of streetscape and individual buildings in good physical condition;
  3. installation of deadlocks on all exterior doors;
  4. installation of security grilles on all windows, particularly on side and rear windows;
  5. improvement in internal shop surveillance by removing as many obstructions as possible to visibility of the shop interior from the street and footpath;
  6. interior and exterior lights to be left on all night;
  7. installation of alarms.

In the follow-up study two additional commercial centres in different sectors of Brisbane with different socio-economic ratings were examined. The characteristics of the crimes established and correlations between shop-breaking frequency and urban and architectural attributes were explored in an attempt to identify security and surveillance variables that best discriminated between premises with high and low crime rates. This study confirmed the crime pattern conclusions of the pilot study. It also revealed that there were no substantial differences that could be attributed to socio-economic factors or location with respect to city sectors although the physical nature and location of each centre did have some influence on the type of crime perpetrated within the centre.

In the third and final study, with the co-operation of the Queensland Police Department, the characteristics of break and entry offences against shops using police file data were examined. Fifty pairs of shops with break and entry histories were compared with similar shops which had escaped attack. Findings showed that shops not attacked tended to be:

  1. better illuminated at night;
  2. located in more active after-hours neighbourhoods;
  3. better able to resist forced entry through higher quality construction;
  4. more likely to have installed alarm systems and employed security services;
  5. characterised by higher standards of architectural design, landscaping and general maintenance.

These three research studies have resulted in two publications in journals, as well as papers presented at conferences in Adelaide, Toowoomba and Townsville. Interest in the work done in Brisbane has been expressed by the British Home Office and a number of publications and research reports have been exchanged with various research institutions in Great Britain and Australia.

Disposition of mentally retarded offenders

Report title: Simply Criminal (PDF 8.7MB)
Grantee: Dr S.C. Hayes, Senior Lecturer, Department of Behavourial Sciences in Medicine, University of Sydney, NSW
Criminology Research Council grant ; (20/81)

This book examines the 'career' of the mentally retarded person who becomes involved in the criminal justice system, from the time he is apprehended for questioning by police, and brought before a court, through the serving of a sentence (which may be determinate or indeterminate; and served in prison or in the community), until the person is rehabilitated and able to take his place in the community as a law-abiding citizen.

In Chapter 1, mental retardation is defined, and delineated from mental illness. Myths associated with mental retardation are discussed, particularly the belief that mental retardation and criminality are linked causally. The limitations of the 'mad or bad' philosophy (which summarises the issue of responsibility for criminal offences) are examined, and the dilemma is raised that the mentally retarded offender may be neither mad nor bad. The principle of normalisation, that is, making available to mentally retarded people patterns and conditions of everyday life which are as close as possible to the norms and patterns in the mainstream of society, is applied to the mentally retarded person accused or convicted of crime.

Chapter 2 examines the size of the problem. Whilst at most approximately 2-3 per cent of the general population is mentally retarded, at least one Australian study has found that 5 per cent of the prison population suffers from this disability. This figure is probably an under-estimate, because not all offenders undergo psychological assessment. In the United States of America, a national figure of 9.5 per cent has been found, with there being marked differences between regions. The reasons for regional differences in prevalence rates are examined, as well as variations over time. Mental retardation and/or schooling and learning difficulties occur frequently in the juvenile offender population.

Mentally retarded offenders share many characteristics with the general prison population, including low socio-economic status and cultural-familial deprivation. Most retarded offenders fall into the mildly retarded category, and most are males. The type of offence committed tends to be against property or persons, but is seldom rape or sexual assault. There is a tendency to commit minor, but repeated offences, or a major, violent crime, resulting in a bi-modal distribution according to the severity of crime.

Chapter 3 discusses apprehension, questioning, and possible means of diversion out of the criminal justice system. Cases are documented where false convictions were obtained on the basis of confessional statements by retarded suspects who had not in fact committed an offence. There is a need for training for police officers and other criminal justice personnel in the recognition and handling of mentally retarded suspects. The range of appropriate alternative diversions needs to be increased so that police officers are not faced with a situation where the only choice is between the cells and a mental hospital.

Chapter 4 deals with the legal issues associated with competence in court, including fitness to plead and fitness to stand trial, and disposition of the unfit accused, namely, detention at the Governor's pleasure. The question is raised at to whether the concept of fitness to plead should be retained. Proposed amendments to New South Wales and Queensland mental health legislation are examined.

Chapter 5 outlines issues which may arise during the trial of a mentally retarded accused who is fit to stand trial. The retarded person's competence to take the oath, plead guilty, or give evidence is examined. Various defences are outlined, including the insanity defence (and its consequence, namely, detention at the Governor's pleasure), diminished responsibility, intoxication, automatism, mistake, and provocation. Areas of the law needing reform receive comment.

Chapters 6 and 7 concentrate upon the range of sentences which may be passed on a mentally retarded offender, Chapter 6 examining community-based options and Chapter 7 detailing custodial options. The criteria which the Court takes into account when deciding upon the sentence, and the impact of the various forms of sentence upon a mentally retarded offender are assessed. In Chapter 7, the effect of indeterminate sentences, such as detention at the Governor's pleasure, is critically reviewed. The effect of imprisonment is likely to be detrimental to the retarded offender, but this fact should not be used as an argument for establishing segregated correctional institutions for retarded offenders.

Chapter 8 focuses upon returning the offender to the community. The effectiveness of parole is examined, and the concept of dangerousness as the major criterion for release is criticised. Habilitation and rehabilitation programs for retarded offenders are outlined, together with training courses for corrective services personnel. The aim is that the retarded offender receive habilitative services - medical, mental health, social, vocational, educational, physical therapy, and counselling which will assist him to the extent and within the shortest time possible to function in the community as a self-reliant law-abiding citizen.

Evaluation of Jesuit post-release youth hostel

Report title: Four Flats Hawthorn: An Evaluation
Grantee: Reverend Father P.J. Norden, S.J., Manresa People's Centre, Victoria.
Criminology Research Council grant ; (11/76)

Four Flats Hawthorn is a non-government organisation which aims to assist young men released from youth training centres and prisons in Victoria by operating a hostel-based program. It was established on the initiative of a Jesuit priest, Father Peter Norden.

The evaluation essentially consisted of a detailed description of the program in operation with a comparison being made between 53 young men who were residents in the hostel and 37 controls who had similar characteristics. A follow-up 12 months after release compared these two groups in terms of recidivism, ability to cope and self-esteem.

The Four Flats residents were generally distinguished from others discharged from institutions by having very poor family relationships, a low level of education, a poor work history, immaturity and a record of breaking and entering offences. The program focussed upon young men who were especially vulnerable.

The evaluation showed that there was some reduction in recidivism, but the exact nature of this reduction is unclear. It is possible that the apparent difference between the Four Flats residents and the control group may vanish with the passing of more time. In other works, the program may have delayed rather than reduced recidivism. However, even this is of value to both the victim and to the wider society.

There was also evidence, based on the qualitative judgments made by two evaluation interviewers and program staff, that the ability of the young men to live independently was enhanced. Many had had little or no experience of independent living prior to residence in the hostel but were able to move into independence relatively smoothly.

This research also showed that the hostel program resulted in a reduction of human indignity and suffering. The young men at Four Flats were treated with dignity and compassion and had the experience of relatively enjoyable lifestyles. On the basis of this collective evidence the evaluators reached the conclusion that the program was a success to a degree greater than might have been expected.

The research report concludes with a proposal for the replication and extension of this type of program and evaluation.

An investigation of regional differences in the judicial use and perception of probation as a sentencing option in Tasmania

Report title: Probation: An Examination of Sentencing Disparity in Tasmania (PDF 2MB)
Grantee: Mr J.G. Mackay, formerly Chief Probation and Parole Officer, and Mr P.M. Donnelly, Probation and Parole Officer, Attorney-General's Department, Tasmania.
Criminology Research Council grant ; (18/81)

There exist in Tasmania regional differences in the use of the probation orders by magistrates. These differences consist of regional variations in the frequency with which the orders are imposed and variations in the length of the orders when they are imposed. This study has shown that demographic change has to a certain extent an impact on this difference in that there have been some age cohort changes which have altered the size of the 'at risk' group. However, it does not explain it all. Rather it is a central hypothesis of this report that magistrates' perception of the nature and usefulness of probation can account in a meaningful way for the variation in its use. A literature search and focussed interviews with magistrates indicated that magistrates are informed by the two different though often combined sentencing principles of rehabilitation and punishment. The data support the hypothesis that an emphasis on either one of these principles will substantially affect how probation is used as a sentencing option.

An emphasis on rehabilitation will result in the more frequent use of supervised probation orders and will result in their being combined with other penalties such as fines and imprisonment. Their focus will be a predominantly young group of offenders, and will be added after a sentencing decision has been made. An emphasis on an offender's social circumstances and his consequent rehabilitation through the medium of a pre-sentence report has the effect of increasing the likelihood that the revision order will be for more than 12 months duration.

Alternatively where probation is viewed as functioning as a penalty as well as a rehabilitative tool and where the decision to impose a probation order forms part of the sentencing decision, then it is less likely to be used in conjunction with other penalties, and is more likely to be imposed for a period of 12 months or less.

The consequences of such sentencing principles is that where the number of offenders made subject to supervised probation orders is constant across the State, the actual number of offenders subject to supervision in any particular region would vary. Probation officers in the southern region would have case loads which were on average smaller than their northern and north- western colleagues. However they would effectively 'turn over' the same number of cases, within a given period, and would consequently experience different demands on their time and expertise.

Finally, the project has demonstrated that sentencing patterns can be studied so as to isolate the various contributing factors which result in apparent sentencing disparity. It was possible to examine demographic changes and assess the extent to which they contribute to the incidence of probation order imposition and in conjunction with focussed interviews and empirical data it was possible to account for the variations in the probationer population in Tasmania.

Prisoner perceptions of the prison environment

Report title: Prisoner Perceptions of the Prison Environment (pdf 720kB)
Grantee: Dr D. Weatherburn, Lecturer in Psychology, Department of Social Science, Mitchell College of Advanced Education, Bathurst, NSW
Criminology Research Council grant ; (1/82)

A sample of inmates from a maximum security prison (Goulburn, New South Wales) were asked to rank a series of statements concerning the prison environment on scales of importance and satisfactoriness. The statements concerned the following matters: quality of prison food, freedom of movement in prison, relations with prison officers, handling of inmate grievances, amount of prison earnings, frequency of cell searches, frequency of visits allowed to prisoners, fairness of prison discipline, fairness of classification criteria, certainty of release date, relations with other inmates, educational opportunities for inmates, quality of prison work and opportunities for inmate recreation.

It was hoped that by establishing separate scales for importance and satisfactoriness on these matters, the observed disparity between the importance attached to a specific issue, and its rated (un)satisfactoriness would provide an index of the sources of inmate dissatisfaction in prison. It was also expected that by linking the ranking of specific features of the offender (e.g., age, term of imprisonment, number of previous imprisonments etc.) the homogeneity of attitudes to the prison environment for different sub-groups of offenders could be examined. The results obtained from these procedures could then be used (a) to identify the important aspects of the prison environment to aid in the design and implementation of new prison programs; and (b) to provide a baseline from which to assess the effects of new prison programs in general.

The execution of the study was hampered by the small number (n = 65) of inmates willing to participate in it. It is unclear why the early willingness to participate gave way to resistance, however several inmates reported fears of victimisation. In any event the small number vitiated the possibility of comparisons among sub-groups of the prison population. Separate scales of importance and satisfactoriness for the entire sample were therefore established. The results suggested - (a) that quality of prison food and freedom of movement clearly ranked both the most important and most unsatisfactory features of the prison environment; (b) that the features of opportunities for inmate recreation and quality of prison work received low ratings of important and satisfactoriness, and (c) that there is greater homogeneity of attitudes among inmates as to what is unsatisfactory than there is with respect to importance.

These results, limited though they may be, suggest that the sources of inmate discontent still are the 'prosaic' issues raised by inmates during inquiries of the Nagle Royal Commission into prisons. Whether sub-groups of inmates differ in the relative importance or satisfactoriness they attach to the surveyed issues, and what the precise structure of inmate grievances may be, are questions which will have to await further research.

Community service: an evaluation of the impact of the community service order scheme in Queensland

Report title: Queensland Probation and Parole Service Community Service: An Evaluation of the Impact of the Community Service Order Scheme in Queensland (PDF 4.2MB)
Grantee: Mr J.J. Perkins, Chief Probation and Parole Officer, Queensland Department of Welfare Services. (The research was conducted by Dr Sally Leivesley.)
Criminology Research Council grant ; (24/82)

This study developed an evaluation model based on six social indicators. The aim was to provide administrators with a relatively simple decision-making tool that measured both the quantitative statistical data and the subjective responses by participants in the scheme.

The Principal Community Programs Officer of the Queensland Probation and Parole Service and an external consultant interviewed 39 participants in the scheme drawn from the Probation and Parole Service, the judiciary and community organisations throughout the State.

The first indicator of the impact of community service in Queensland is community response. The findings were that the scheme was being successfully implemented by charitable organisations, offenders were introduced to make aspects of voluntary work, and had contributed a considerable amount of casual labour.

The second indicator is reponse of the Queensland Probation and Parole Service. Part-time supervisors of community service experienced considerable satisfaction with their work. It was recommended that full-time community service coordinators be appointed in each region and that an in-service training scheme be made available for supervisors.

The third indicator is growth in the scheme. Community service was found to be growing at a faster rate than probation and it was predicted that it would soon become a significant part of the total workload of the Queensland Probation and Parole Service. Forward estimates for staffing were recommended.

The fourth indicator is offender response. This was judged by statistical data on failure to complete the sentence and interview material. A very low failure rate in the first two years was attributed to sentencing patterns by the judiciary who were selecting offenders well suited to voluntary work.

The fifth indicator is cost effectiveness. Supervision of a community service worker costs $1.50 a day compared to $50 a day for a prisoner.

The sixth indicator is reponse by the judiciary. This was measured by growth of the scheme in the two years and the positive response by the small number of representatives who were interviewed.

Community service in Queensland was found to be functioning well because it provided an economical solution to the State, a humanitarian, and, at times, rehabilitative option for the offender, and a significant contribution to the voluntary agencies.

The report contained detailed recommendations on the future development of community service. Following acceptance of the report, the Queensland Probation and Parole Service has already introduced in-service training which commenced in Toowoomba, June 1983. The report, which includes historical and comparative information on schemes elsewhere in Australia and overseas, provides material for in-service training.

Multi-problem families

Report titles: Journal article 'The Criminal and Social Aspects of Families with a Multiplicity of Problems', Lynn Davies and E. Cunningham-Dax, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, vol. 7, no. 4. Dec. 1974, pp. 197-213. Also, 'The Problem Family and Community Medicine', E. Cunningham-Dax and Rona Hagger, ANZ Journal of Medicine, vol. 8, 1978, pp. 267-75.
Grantee: Dr E. Cunningham Dax, former Co-ordinator in Community Health, Tasmania.
Criminology Research Council grant ; (1/73)

In 1970 the late John Harrison, Secretary to the Tasmanian Law Society, was perturbed by the number of times members of the same families requested legal aid, and suggested inquiries should be made.

A high level committee with wide and senior representation from Parliament, the law, government departments and voluntary agencies met and with a grant from the Mental Health Services Commission, Dr E. Cunningham Dax undertook the organisation of the research. A research assistant, Mrs Lyn Davies, was appointed: the membership and support of the committee guaranteed the utmost assistance and co-operation from all the relevant bodies. It was appreciated that Tasmania had all the necessary epidemiological advantages for such a study.

The research was begun by asking a number of key departments to give the list of names of the 30 most frequently encountered families which had often been in difficulties. From these, 12 names were selected as being common to most of these agencies (this was later expanded to 15) and who were all in the south of the State, none of whom were Aboriginal and none born before 1900.

It immediately became obvious these were identical with the multi-problem families described from many countries, though never in great detail in Australia. Most of the researches which had been carried out elsewhere had been of a descriptive nature and the quantitative as opposed to the qualitative findings were sparse.

The Tasmanian Attorney-General, The Hon. Max Bingham, applied to the newly formed Australian Institute of Criminology for a grant to aid this work, though at the time the members of the Criminology Research Council had not yet been appointed. This eventually resulted in the first grant given by the Council being for this research project.

The grant enabled Mrs Rona Hagger, a senior social worker, to be appointed and to make detailed inquiries and recordings of all the families.

No attempt was made to carry out any remedial social work on any of the families, as the research was purely a detailed investigation of certain aspects of the problem. It was hoped this would give a background on which of the various agencies concerned could work with assurance and knowledge. On the whole it was easier to discuss the families with the more successful members, and indeed their means of attaining their own accomplishments added some valuable findings to the research.

Amongst the general findings such as desertion, alcoholism, housing problems, high mobility, large families, squalor, poverty through mismanagement, incest, violence, poor schooling, truancy, delinquency and many more such features, two measurable factors were selected as of special importance. These were the criminal offences and the traffic convictions, and were ascertained in detail for each of the family members.

The first publication was in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry in 1973; this showed the method of construction of the extensive family trees. Certain qualitative findings were recorded for each of the many individuals investigated, though as the researches were developed later, these were amplified so eventually a person could be identified on the charts as exhibiting delinquency, prison, violence, broken home, alcoholism, incest, de facto relationships, desertion, divorce, illegitimacy, mental illness, intellectual handicap, death.

Such charts, extending in some families to even a hundred or so members, were constructed for each of the families. It was of considerable interest to watch the progress of these factors from one generation to the next. It was also of importance to see the common inter-relationships between the families.

In consequence, a series of 12 papers and a booklet on multi-problem families were published showing their related criminal offences, their psychiatric illnesses and intellectual handicap, their traffic convictions, their medical histories and their recidivism. Some were general articles illustrating the importance of the study of these families in the fields of inadequacy, motor vehicle use and epidemiology.

Concurrently, with the participation of Mrs Lorinne Boyce, a research social worker, another major research project had been developed over some years in the same Mental Health Research Unit, to show the relationship between intellectual handicap and driving offences.

After a series of articles were published in various journals, the work was summarised in a Research Publication by the Australian Road Research Board under the title 'The Illiterate on the Road'.

One of its major conclusions was that it was not the intellectually handicapped who were the danger on the road, but instead the 'socially handicapped' or 'culturally retarded'. This research from another angle came to the same conclusion, which was that those who, from an educational viewpoint, are the most prone to road offences are the same group as were identified as those coming from the multi-problem families.

It has been shown that the multi-problem family members comprise from 5 to 10 per cent of the community, but use from 50 to 80 per cent of the social services, depending on how either are defined, and therefore their cost to the community is enormous.

The identification of these families is of the greatest possible importance from the point of view of the education authorities, the social and welfare services, the police, the correctional services, physical and mental health, the employment departments and the road safety authorities, as in all these instances they may form a large proportion of their work.

Why, one may ask, is this matter so neglected? Early on the researchers found considerable objections raised under the guise of labelling, discrimination, human rights, social class, social prejudice, often from social workers themselves. It seemed they were more prepared to deal with the consequences rather than to face the basic causes. Yet history has shown the failure to solve the problems of the socially handicapped when using piecemeal 'band j aid' methods applied by a multitude of uncoordinated agencies.

The subject is unlikely to be popular, or to command much support, until its vast financial and social implications are understood. Blind political ignorance must be overcome, interdepartmental rivalry removed and the jealously guarded territories of the overlapping social workers reorganised. One of the major social problems has been identified - the extent of its disabling effects has been demonstrated; the difficulty arises as to how to ensure that action is taken on the findings.

Recidivism rates of violent offenders

Report titles: First report is in four parts: (1) Homicide and Recidivism, (2) Recidivism among Assaulters, (3) Recidivism among Robbers, and (4) Recidivism among Rapists (1979); Second report: Case Studies of Violent Offenders (1984)
Grantee: Department of Community Welfare Services, Victoria
Criminology Research Council grant ; (7(I)/78)

The study was designed as a follow-up investigation to a study orginally undertaken by Dr Peter H. Burgoyne during the period October to December 1979. He produced a series of four reports on the following aspects of violent crime and recidivism:

  1. Recidivism among Robbers
  2. Recidivism among Rapists
  3. Homicide and Recidivism
  4. Recidivism among Assaulters

The study was originally designed to enable interviews to be undertaken with some 20 to 30 persons, who on the one hand could be considered recidivist offenders ('failures'), and on the other a similar sized group who could be regarded as non- recidivist 'successes'. This was based on offenders included in an earlier study on violence and recidivism by Dr Peter Burgoyne.

The aim was to present case studies and analyse the information gained with a view to formulating proposals concerning particularly departmental policy and planning in handling recidivist offenders. While it still proved possible, after a break of some seven to 10 years, to locate relatively easily sufficient offenders in the recidivist group, since all were found to be serving sentences in Victorian prisons, it was most difficult to locate offenders for the non-recidivist group after such a lapse of time.

The study is therefore clearly deficient in this area, but perhaps it is explainable in terms of many non-recidivists not wishing to be reminded of times past.

Despite this, there appear to be some observations of value to be obtained from the presented information, and a number of proposals are included, which it is felt could be utilised in a positive manner to offset the deleterious effects of violent crime upon victim and offender alike.

There is however no easy answer to the problem of violence in the community. It is costly, both in human and monetary terms, for it to continue, and equally costly to combat.

The underlying theme of this study is that there appear to be sufficient differences between the two groups of recidivist and non-recidivist offenders, but in view of the small number located for the latter group, this lacks some validity.

Concentrating on the recidivist group, the study does tend to show that such offenders have generally developed in a deprived family situation, have received a limited education and at an early stage of their development are involved in conflict with 'the law'. There is a tendency to graduate through the various penalties prescribed by authority, until the end result of lengthy prison terms. External factors such as inadequate employment and a predilection for alcohol emphasise the vicious situation in which recidivists are nurtured. Authority's tools to combat the situation, police, courts, probation and parole officers, and the various custodial institutions, appear inept in ameliorating the situation in such cases.

The answer may be somewhere in a greater overall approach, and not a fragmented one. As an example there would need to be co-operation between government departments in arranging an alcohol-drug program for violent offenders while in the prison setting. There are currently too few such programs in existence for the violent and recidivist offender.

The problem of violent crimes affects the community as a whole, and the total resources of the community appear to be required to develop methods of combating it.

It is nevertheless unfortunate that a wider range of opinion from offenders was not available. Too often it seems the voice of society's 'failures' is not heard or is misinterpreted to fit the listener's point of view. The researcher considers that there is much of value to be gained in studies such as this. Hopefully the views expressed were properly heard and not misinterpreted.

The identification of small glass fragments for forensic purposes

Report title: The Identification of Small Glass Fragments for Forensic Purposes (PDF 6.4MB)
Grantee: Dr K.W. Terry, Mr A. Van Riessen and Mr B.F. Lynch
Criminology Research Council grant ; (9/80)

The aim of the project was to implement a rapid and sensitive non-destructive method for the identification and comparison of small glass fragments. Two analytical techniques have been commissioned on a scanning electron microscope equipped with an energy dispersive x-ray spectrometer. These have enable accurate elemental analyses on small fragments to be obtained with little sample preparation or destruction. The initial technique was to use the conventioned method of elemental analysis in a SEM/EDS system whereby the electron beam induces x-ray fluorescence in the sample. The second technique was to generate within the SEM an x-ray beam which is then used to fluoresce the sample. The two techniques are complementary and have great significance to glass analysis. This is due to the electron beam technique. With >1000 ppm detection limits, being most sensitive for low atomic number elements typical of the major and minor elements in glasses, while the x-ray beam technique, with its >30 ppm detection limits, being most sensitive for higher atomic number elements, typical of the trace elements in glasses.

A collection has been made of 177 samples of glasses used within Australia which includes both totally produced and imported glasses. The samples are either of known origin or from forensic case studies. Quantitative elemental analyses of the glasses have been obtained using the electron induced method, together with qualitative elemental analyses using the x-ray induced method. The refractive indices of all the samples have also been determined.

In comparative analyses, quantitative electron induced major- minor elemental data have been shown effective in highlighting glasses from different classifications. This greatly enhances the predictions achieved by refractive index measurement alone. The trace obtained with the x-ray induced technique further facilitates classification. In many investigations, glass analyses are requested for fragments found at a crime scene but for which no comparison sample is available. In these cases, a glass identification or classification is required. A statistical analysis of the quantitative elemental analyses and the refractive indices of all the glasses have been undertaken using the Statistical Package for the Social , Sciences (SPSS) package, in particular using DISCRIMINANT, and then with the CLUSTAN IC package.

The use of these two packages has led to the following classifications being adopted: float, sheet, rolled (other), non-float flat (Australian, 3.6 per cent MgO), non-float flat (Australian, 3.1 per cent MgO), rolled (Japan), rolled (Belgium), lightbulb, spectacles, tableware, container, and borosilicates. Both packages have been found to be very useful in predicting the classification of a single glass fragment. The databank used as a reference contains only 134 samples yet high prediction successes were obtained. Even when the unknown fragment was of a classification not within the original selections there was a good chance that this would be highlighted by the two statistical packages. This was shown by each procedure predicting a different classification since they both operate on different selection criteria. Such problems are expected to occur until the glass data bank itself is much larger but at least the statistical procedures do tend to highlight when this occurs.

These statistical procedures have given great confidence in the approach adopted to use the major and minor elements only as a means to identify closely related samples, and classify, glasses. This is significant to other workers since it eliminates the needs for trace element analyses that may be time consuming. In the SEM/EDS system all the elements are detected simultaneously in an analysing item of 50s.

Assessing the utility of fines

Report title: Assessing the Utility of Fines (PDF 3.4MB)
Grantee: Mr D. Challinger
Criminology Research Council grant ; (14/80)

While fines constitute the bulk of penalties imposed by Victorian Magistrates' Courts and make a healthy contribution to government revenue little research has been directed towards them. This research looked at two particular aspects: fine payment and fine setting. Plainly fines are not utilitarian if they are poorly paid, and discontent about the levels of fines set will not aid public acceptance of fines as sanctions.

Fining Practice. The data for this research were collected from a number of Victorian courthouses and related to 1980, a time at which fining practices were relatively stable. Analysis of the data shows that the amount of fine was related to an independent measure of the seriousness of the offence -higher blood-alcohol levels in drinking drivers and higher value thefts produced higher fines although there was considerable variation in average fines from different courthouses.

Lower average fines were imposed on females reflecting only , the fact that females committed different offences from males.

Offenders who agreed to have their penalty determined by a magistrate in chambers through an 'alternative procedure', generally received lower fines than those who elected to go to court. And those who were not legally represented in court generally received a lower fine than those who did retain the services of a lawyer.

Fine Payment. Overall 92 per cent of fines were paid either outright or after a warrant had been issued. Around 7 per cent of fined offenders disappeared without paying and under 2 per cent of offenders were held in custody to discharge their fines. Offenders against the person and driving licence offenders were less likely to pay their fines. Variations between magistrates were considerable with only 80 per cent of fines imposed by one magistrate actually being paid.

The average delay between the courts fining an offender and his paying the fine is 200 days, an indication that fines may well be seen by many as simply another bill to pay. But because the fine is a penalty it is suggested that it should be paid at the time of sentence even if that requires considerable flexibility by the court through allowing Bankcard etc. Higher fines are those for which non-payment is more likely and the folly of increasing fines especially in times of economic stringency is therefore obvious, even though magistrates seem to show considerable reluctance to use maximum fines. Most fined offenders who eventually go to prison have made some attempt to pay their fines. It is noted that invariably these offenders have prior offending histories.

Each time a fine defaulter arrives in prison, it could be said a magistrate has erred by setting a fine which an offender finds impossible to pay. Attempts to keep fine defaulters from going to prison should include a searching financial investigation, giving magistrates the power to reduce fines, and setting realistic targets for time-payment by instalment. Expanding the community service option for fine defaulters is undoubtedly a strong device to keep such offenders out of prison.

Fine Setting. Apparently inconsistent and unfair fines for the same offence can cause disillusionment amongst the general public. This research used the offence of speeding in a motor vehicle to establish community support for magistrates' consideration, in all cases, of the features of a speeding event.

Respondents indicated that a fine for speeding should be higher if, for instance, the speeding car has bald tyres and less if the offence occurs on an empty road at 3.00 a.m. At present, magistrates according to their disposition, the initiative of police, presence of a lawyer or enthusiasm of the offender, mayor may not hear of these sort of features of the event. This research suggests a checklist of features to ensure that all such factors are always canvassed to ensure greater fairness in fine setting.

With respect to all features put to respondents, those who had been fined for speeding always suggested lower fines than those never fined. And females and older drivers tended to suggest higher fines in more circumstances. However a .05 driver was universally seen to deserve a heavy fine, even heavier if he had a history of speeding.

Crime and society in Western Australia

Report title: Crime and Society in Western Australia (PDF 2.15MB)
Grantee: Mr A.W. Gill
Criminology Research Council grant ; (11/81)

Three areas were covered in this research project, funded by the Australian Research Grants Commission from January 1980 to October 1981, and by the Criminology Research Council from October 1981 to March 1982. In the first area, a computer data base has been devised to analyse offences and offenders committed for trial to the W.A. Quarter Session (1830-1861) and to the W.A. Supreme Court (1861-1971). This was the most complex and time consuming part of the research. Work on coding the information prior to analysis is continuing. In the second area, several series of 'crime' statistics have been collected and collated from various 'official' sources for Western Australia from 1871 to 1915. Where possible figures have been adjusted to give continuous series from at least 1895 to 1915. These figures will be supplied to the Australian Bicentennial Historical Statistics Project. Where possible the categories of offences have been arranged to broadly correspond to existing published statistics for nineteenth century New South Wales (P.N. Grabosky, 1977). In the third section a preliminary assessment has been made of the usefulness of 'Controlology' (J. Ditton, 1979) for a history of 'crime' in Western Australia. Sufficient evidence has been collected to support Ditton's criticism of 'official crime statistics' and to warrant scepticism about attempts to judge variations in the nature or extent of 'criminal' behaviour by the use of such statistics. Such statistics should be seen, not as the product of 'criminal' actions, but of the decisions and policies pursued by police, magistrates, crown prosecutors and judges. As yet, this research cannot support Ditton's theory of 'control waves' (to replace the conventional ideal of 'crime waves'). Nonetheless until a detailed historical study of 'crime' recording procedures is made, conventional analysis of 'crime' statistics (e.g. S.K. Mukherjee, 1981) may not reflect the reality of changes over time in criminal behaviour.

Evaluation of intensive neighbourhood care program

Report title: A Review of INC [Intensive Neighbourhood Care] - A Program for Placing Young Offenders in the Community as an Alternative to Secure Care (PDF 4.8MB)
Grantee: Department of Community Welfare, South Australia
Criminology Research Council grant ; (9/82)

The INC program began in South Australia in February 1979 and was gradually adopted by all six regions during that year. The current assessment and evaluation of the program considers all support placements up' to and including June 1982. The study identified 239 placements covering 209 young offenders. Data was analysed on 219 of these placements.

The program aims at reducing re-offending, keeping the child out of institutions, preventing harmful peer group contact but maintaining close ties with the child's family and improving the child's behaviour, self-image and attitude to society. INC aims to be an alternative to secure care and not an alternative to not sentencing or deferred sentencing or other lesser forms of sentencing.

Success for the INC program will always be dependent on the level of difficulty of cases placed into the program. Excellent behaviour at the end and after each placement, a total absence of exposure to secure care, and no re-offending could be achieved by being suitably selective in choosing the cases with virtually no difficulties for the program. However, INC aims to be an alternative to secure care and not an alternative to lesser forms of sentencing. The program aims at cases where at least some level of difficulty is to be expected. Thus, if observed, excellent results for the program would be an indication that possibly it was being used for inappropriate cases.

The research clearly indicates that INC is not being used as an alternative to lesser forms of sentencing. In general INC cannot be accused of causing individuals to be sentenced where they would not be if the program did not exist.

On the contrary the research indicates that INC is being used for cases with a greater level of difficulty than was originally intended. The research indicates that possibly as high as three in four INC placements have committed more than one previous offence, and a similar number have had secure care experience through remand or detention.

The survey results have indicated that in the majority of cases the program is seen to be instrumental in improving the behaviour of the INC child, specifically there is an improvement in inter-personal skills and coping skills. The program is perceived by most of the INC parents involved to be one in which it is possible for them to foster a loving relationship. The program is generally characterised by positive dispositions. This was evident in the high degree of support which was offered to the research. The INC parents see themselves as being individuals who are in a position to contribute to young people with difficulties and that they have an understanding of these difficulties.

There is a high degree of enthusiasm for developing communication and personal skills. The research indicates that the INC placements by and large are seen to be lacking in these skills.

The program is seen to be of quite some benefit to both the INC placement and the INC patents and family. By participating in the program, INC parents feel that they develop further skills themselves and that their children, should they have some who are involved in the program, benefit as well in a similar fashion. The research would indicate that, if anything, the remaining important challenge in this area is to attempt to instill in the natural family the same development of interpersonal and relating skills. The research indicates that INC placements' relationships with their own families are frequently somewhat lacking.

The research also indicates that INC parents are experiencing some difficulties but they generally show considerable enthusiasm for the program. The surveys present some data on re-offending. The incidence of being placed in secure care subsequent to the INC placement is lower than the incidence of secure care prior to placement (including remand). Re-offending also is increasing but this may well be the result of INC now being used for more difficult cases.

The study has covered offenders placed in INC. It has indicated that the enthusiasm shown by the Department and INC families for the program is justified. Consideration should be given to undertaking an audit to establish the number of young offenders not in INC who would benefit from the program now. It is anticipated that this will indicate a need for additional families. If required, a recruitment campaign to boost the number of families would have the additional benefit in assisting in the two critical, management areas for INC, matching the child to the family and managing the pool of families to ensure the ongoing effectiveness and involvement of each family.

Finally a comment on additional management information. While costs and re-offending rates are not necessarily the critical issues, consideration should be given to monitoring the relative costs of INC and secure care and to a specific study of the relative re-offending rates for secure care, INC and lesser sentencing options.

The majority of INC placements have had a long history of offending prior to placement, 80 per cent having had 'many or several offences' and 77 per cent some previous secure care experience. Welfare officers considered that re-offending was the most likely outcome in about a third of cases, and possible in half of the remainder.

The nature of the INC program is to allow the individual a very high degree of freedom. It is therefore a measure of success that about 70 per cent of placements, during placement, were not involved in an offence where legal action was taken.

Literacy skills and needs of inmates of Victorian prisons

Report title: Literacy and Learning: The Human Factor (PDF 10.9MB)
Grantee: Mr M. Brennan
Criminology Research Council grant ; (15/82)

The project took the form of structured interview and discussion with 62 inmates in five institutions in the State of Victoria. The institutions surveyed were the medium-security prisons at Bendigo, Castlemaine and Fairlea and the youth training centres at Winlaton and Malmsbury.

The interviews sought information on three areas:

  1. the prisoners' appraisal of their own reading and writing abilities and the value they placed in such activities;
  2. their opinions and suggestions on the ways in which reading and writing could be effectively taught within the prison context;
  3. the role that reading and writing could play in their personal and vocational development with a view towards their eventual rehabilitation in society.

Additionally, 34 education officers were questioned regarding the range and proportion of requests made by prisoners with regard to literacy education and at Bendigo prison a standard reading comprehension test (GAPADOL) was conducted with 94 per cent of the prisoner population.

The report highlights the perceived importance of literacy education in prisons and detention centres. It provides a resource of recorded information on general and specific literacy capabilities of prisoners as well as the diverse range of literacy activities to be found.

Prisoners who perceived themselves to be what is commonly termed 'functionally illiterate' accepted that the remedy rested with themselves. Literacy was seen as important in its capacity to permit correspondence with the world outside and, through education courses, the chance to learn and consequently change in status by becoming better equipped vocationally.

However, the distinction between purely functional literacy and its more expressive and creative forms was found to have questionable relevance in the incarcerating context. The values placed upon reading and writing as a form of communication and self-expression were universally high. Literacy was seen to preserve the integrity of individuals and provide them with a private and reflective opportunity to explore choices and options within themselves. In that respect, all literacy activity within I prisons may be termed as functional -since it is ultimately functional to remain sane.

Prisoners made valuable suggestions as to the manner in which literacy education could be improved. Simple programs concerned with the mechanics of spelling and handwriting were insufficient. Study needed to be related to personal and vocational needs in order to extend the nature of literacy in a meaningful way. Greater accessibility to books and magazines was required.

Of education courses in general, there was a clear desire for more relevance and a wider range of study opportunities. Courses needed external accreditation to provide an acceptable qualification on release. Although correspondence courses were sometimes useful in this regard, teacher response and study advice were always greatly sought after. The need for direct communication with teachers, frequently voiced as 'a chance to sit down and talk' about work in progress, was the most important requirement.

Some pertinent observations about the staffing of education courses in prisons were made. Teachers have to be seen (and need to see themselves) as completely distinct from custodial staff. This implies that educational activities require to be designed for students and not for prisoners. Currently there was a tendency to regard 'doing education' as synonymous with 'doing time' in that courses were employed to keep prisoners occupied in an acceptable, but preferably joyless, activity while serving out their sentences. Where education staff had accepted a role definition as it custodians, it apparently became inappropriately ideological to engage in coursework relevant to student needs or to attempt to sustain a teacher-student relationship designed to achieve learning in the customary professional manner.

Prisoners perceived that literacy proficiency played a strong role in their personal development in that they were enabled to come to terms with fears and feelings through writing.

Reading provided prisoners with an imaginative release to other places and other times -finding out what they needed to know both about themselves and the world. Since it may be observed that any release, even imaginative, runs contrary to the controlled and punitive nature of penal institutions, literacy education has predominantly been limited to the mechanics by general consent. Specific requests for assistance with spelling, handwriting or training to read faster are accepted - and made because they are know to be acceptable. But literacy education needs to go beyond fragmentary responses to surface requests.

Creation of an independent learning style for both student and teacher is seen as the proper aim of education. The aim of literacy education should be to put people in touch with literature beyond their immediate situation and experience and to help them cope with the demands of their environment. The data from the interviews collected in this report should strengthen the sensitivity and the knowledge of those interested in educational rather than punitive ventures.

Evaluation of a volunteer skills training program in a women's prison

Report title: Evaluation of a Volunteer Program in a Women's Prison (PDF 2.2MB)
Grantee: Dr A.H. Morgan, University of Queensland
Criminology Research Council grant ; (2/83)

The volunteer Program at the Queensland women's prison began as a weekly social skills training course in 1979. In the second year the program was extended to include a broad range of communication and personal development skills, including drama, art, poetry, yoga, music and crafts, as well as a series of sessions on Aboriginal health. Formal study was encouraged and tutors were provided to assist inmates in enrolling for study and completing their lessons. All classes were conducted by volunteers from the Brisbane community, including the University of Queensland.

After three years, with the opening of a new prison facility, a full weekly schedule of educational and recreational activities was implemented, including classes in typing, alcohol awareness, pottery and leatherwork, and an individual counselling service. An evaluation of this expanded program is the subject of this report.

The report briefly describes the search for an appropriate evaluation model within the limitations of applied program evaluation in general, and prison programs in particular. Emphasis is placed on the assessment of significant content and process variable in short-term effects, rather than attempting to find evidence of a long-term program impact. The short-term effects were evaluated within a formative evaluation model, using observational and consultative techniques.

The evaluation is reported in three stages. Stage 1 traces the program's history, with a retrospective assessment based on available data. Stage 2 reports on systematic observations made on five classes over a four-month period during which attendance was noted, and comments regarding class benefits, or criticisms, were recorded.

Stage 3 comprises a survey of attitudes toward each of nine ongoing classes, based on opinions expressed by the women in Stage 2.

Voluntary participation by the women in the program overall was found to be 86 per cent; that is, 86 per cent of the women participated in at least one group at least part of the time. Four women in the sample attended, none of the classes, and two women attended only one. All the rest attended three or more, and the modal number of groups attended was six. Sixty-one per cent of the inmates were involved at some level of education.

The most frequently reported reason for attending classes was to acquire skills and knowledge, although process variables (it provides a break from prison routine, it's a relaxing activity, it helps cope with prison, enjoy contact with people from outside) were evident in the responses of all the women.

It was noted that bi-racial attendance had increased markedly over the five years. Aboriginal participation had been negligible prior to the introduction of the Aboriginal Health group (with Aboriginal leaders) in Stage 2, but segregation had all but disappeared by Stage 3. An exception was noted in the utilisation of the Counselling service, and Aboriginal counsellors have been added to the program.

Three problems were noted: The restriction of all Volunteer classes to the single large classroom, which was especially acute for women in Education who were trying to study, and for Counselling where privacy and confidentiality is essential; the lack of a fulltime co-ordinator to ensure that volunteer tutors are replaced when they leave, and to organise new classes to meet the changing needs of the inmates; and the lack of adequate communication and involvement with the prison officer staff.

Benefits to the volunteers themselves were described, in terms of their own learning experience, and it was recommended that a positive public relations campaign through the media as community education would be beneficial. Benefits of utilising volunteer resources in prison programs were described in terms of the variability and flexibility of program planning, and the broad range of expertise available in the volunteer community. In light of the present economic climate, and the lack of adequate professional support resources, volunteers are seen as a valuable asset. With a permanent paid co-ordinator, volunteer resources would be adequately available.

Design guidelines to reduce security and vandalism problems in medium-density housing in Australia

Report title: Safe as Houses: A manual for Crime Prevention in the Design of Medium Density Public Housing (PDF 1.36MB)
Grantee: Ms W. Sarkissian
Criminology Research Council grant ; (9/83)

This research project focussed on one major product: the preparation of a manual of site-planning guidelines for medium density public housing in Australia. That manual has been produced, together with an extensive bibliography of references related to the topic and an annotated slide lecture designed to accompany the manual.

The process of preparing the manual involved the editing and updating of a chapter of a forthcoming book on the design of medium-density housing by the researcher and Clare Cooper Marcus, Professor of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. That book, Housing as if People Mattered, allocated one chapter of approximately 50 pages to 'security and vandalism' issues. Although the book drew on some Australian research, its design guidelines had never been tested in Australian field situations and much of the research had an American and British bias. Some recent research had not been assessed when the manuscript was completed in 1983. Therefore, the task was to give the chapter to people with expertise in this area and ask them to annotate it, add suggestions from their own experience and correct obvious errors. The input from the practitioners was supplemented by three other sources.

First, an extensive post-occupancy evaluation was conducted by the author in Minto, Campbelltown, outer-suburban Sydney during the period of this research project. Funded by the Housing Commission, this research allowed the researcher to test certain hypotheses about crime and vandalism in four sites, one of which is particularly high in crime. The results of the survey of 212 households, which were not available until late February 1984, were used to modify certain guidelines, especially regarding parking and window design and location.

Second, extensive field observations were made on sites in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, concentrating on 'problem' areas in city environments where crime is a problem. These site visits were documented by hundreds of slides and photographs, which became the illustrations for the manual and a slide presentation.

Third, in-depth discussion and meetings were held with individuals and groups to discuss the issues arising from this research. In particular, field management staff in Elizabeth, South Australia and the Liverpool region, Sydney, provided invaluable assistance. Work-in-progress was discussed with two professional colleagues, Professor Clare Cooper Marcus and Donald Perlgut, who is a leading authority in the field.

Plans are being made for the publication of the manual and a collection of slides which are suitable for group presentations.

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