CRC funded reports
The Council received five reports of completed research projects during the year. 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.
- Pathways to prevention: evaluation of an early intervention crime prevention program
- A study of morbidity in WA prisoners after release from gaol
- An investigation into the effective and ethical interviewing of suspected sex offenders
- Operational performance reviews: the impact on crime in Queensland
- Patterns of substance use, overdose and recidivism among recently released prisoners in Queensland
Pathways to prevention: evaluation of an early intervention crime prevention program
Kate Freiberg and Professor Ross Homel, Griffith University
Criminology Research Council grant ; (27/01-02)
Pathways to Prevention is a multi-faceted early intervention program undertaken with preschool children, their families and schools within an economically disadvantaged urban community in Queensland. The program was designed to reduce early risk factors for adolescent involvement in crime. The program combines school based programs that aim to enhance children's social and communication skills and their readiness for school and to promote equitable home-school partnerships that empower parents to participate actively in their children's education, with family support programs that aim to promote social networks, positive parenting, and healthy family relationships. Main outcomes of the evaluation of the program include:
- high levels of parent satisfaction with family based programs
- relatively greater levels of improvement in oral language skills within preschool classes who participated in the Pathways preschool program compared with classes who received a standard preschool curriculum
- a greater reduction in behavioural difficulties within preschool classes who participated in the Pathways preschool program compared with other preschool classes receiving a standard preschool curriculum
- a greater improvement in pro-social behaviour in preschool classes participating in the Pathways school based programs compared with other preschool classes receiving a standard preschool curriculum
- children who participated in the Pathways social skills program showed greater improvement than the non-intervention group on a cognitive measure of planning and problem-solving ability
- lower levels of academic difficulties in Year 1 recorded for children who had participated in the Pathways preschool programs in the year before starting formal schooling, than for Year 1 children who had not participated in the Pathways preschool program.
Higher levels of family participation in Pathways family programs were generally associated with greater ratings of school readiness by preschool teachers.
A study of morbidity in WA prisoners after release from gaol
Michael Hobbs, Ralph Chapman, Louise Stewart and Steve Ridout, University of Western Australia
Criminology Research Council grant ; (19/02-03)
The Western Australian Data Linkage System (WADLS) was used to determine the relative and absolute risk of death or hospital admission or contact with the Mental Health Services (MHS) in approximately 14,000 prisoners released from prison in the period 1995-2001 and followed up for a minimum of two years after first release (mean follow-up of 4.6 years). After adjustment for age, gender and Indigenous status, released prisoners had substantially higher risks of death and hospital admission or contact with MHS after first release than the general population. They also had high rates of hospital admission and contacts with MHS before imprisonment that were strongly predictive of the use of such services after release, and which suggest that many of the health problems of prisoners are of long standing. There were strong similarities between causes of death and hospitalisation. Suicide, drug and alcohol related deaths, accidental poisoning and transport related deaths were the leading causes of death and the principal reasons for hospital admission or contact with MHS before and after release. In general, Indigenous prisoners had worse health outcomes than non-Indigenous prisoners and female prisoners had worse outcomes than male prisoners. Female non-Indigenous prisoners had a particularly high risk of death, as found in studies elsewhere. It is likely that this is related to the use of illicit drugs soon after release. The study has several implications for policy relating to the health of prisoners both before and after release from prison. These include: measures to meet the particular health needs of female and Indigenous prisoners; implementation of programs for the long term management of chronic disease (particularly mental disorders); and improved release planning to ensure continuity of health care.
An investigation into the effective and ethical interviewing of suspected sex offenders
Mark Kebbell and Paul Mazerolle, Griffith University
Criminology Research Council grant ; (12/03-04)
Sex offences are difficult to investigate and prosecute. Conviction rates are low unless a suspect confesses, in which case a conviction is highly likely. Consequently, attempting to obtain confessions from guilty sex offenders is a worthwhile endeavour. The research used a multifaceted-approach to investigate what factors influence suspects' decisions to confess or deny sexual offences. One group of 19 convicted sex offenders was interviewed concerning why they confessed or denied their offence, and another group of 44 were surveyed concerning their experience of being interviewed by the police and how they believed the police should interview to maximise the likelihood of a guilty sex offender confessing. Police officers were also questioned concerning how they believed suspected sex offenders should be interviewed to facilitate confessions with guilty suspects. An experimental model was created to test different evidence presenting strategies. Taken together, the results of these studies suggest that police officers potentially have considerable influence on suspects' decisions to confess or deny. Evidence plays a critical role in suspects' decisions to confess or deny and should be conscientiously collected, familiarised and presented to a suspect in a convincing way to increase the likelihood of a confession. Similarly, offenders state that they are more likely to confess to police officers adopting a fair, professional, compassionate, understanding, non-aggressive and honest approach. This is a view shared by many police officers experienced in the interviewing of suspected sex offenders.
Operational performance reviews: the impact on crime in Queensland
Lorraine Mazerolle, Griffith University
Criminology Research Council grant ; (22/03-04)
This project evaluates the impact of Queensland Police Service's version of COMPSTAT known as Operational Performance Reviews (OPRs). The study examines the impact of OPRs on reported crime in Queensland and assesses whether or not the OPRs have led to any crime reductions across the 29 police districts in Queensland. The introduction of OPRs was found to be associated with a significant decrease in the total number of reported offences in Queensland. The mixed model analysis of the impact of OPRs on total reported crime suggests that there are major differences between districts, that some of the districts are driving the overall state-wide crime reductions, while others are confounding the positive effects of implementation of OPRs in Queensland. The overall cost-effectiveness of OPRs suggests that the introduction of OPRs appears to have been cost-effective, resulting in an overall saving of $1,162,175.
Patterns of substance use, overdose and recidivism among recently released prisoners in Queensland
Stuart Kinner, Jakob Najman, Jane Fischer and Angela Bates, University of Queensland
Criminology Research Council grant ; (27/03-04)
Prisoners as a group are characterised by chronic social disadvantage, poor mental health, high rates of substance use, a high rate of recidivism and increased rates of both fatal and non-fatal overdose post-release. Nevertheless, little is known about patterns of substance use or other risk factors among recently released prisoners. Using a prospective design, 108 male and 52 female prisoners in Queensland participated in interviews prior to release from custody, then one and four months post-release. Interviews explored patterns of drug use prior to, during and after incarceration, socioeconomic status, physical and mental health, medical treatment, overdose risk factors and other risk-taking behaviour. The findings highlighted both the high prevalence and the chronicity of substance misuse, mental health problems and psychosocial impairment among prisoners and ex-prisoners, and provided further evidence of a link between substance misuse and poor outcomes (including recidivism) post-release. Consistent with a growing number of studies worldwide, these findings point to an urgent need for adequately funded, evidence based post-release services for prisoners.