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HomeReports → 1995-1996

CRC funded reports


The Council received reports from 12 completed research projects during the year 1995-96. 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. Hypnosis, memory, and behaviour in the forensic setting
  2. A study to assess the rate of recidivism among Victorian (major) offenders, and factors which affect the recidivism rate
  3. Evaluation of the capacity of community based corrections to reduce recidivism
  4. Statistical models for adult offender populations
  5. An investigation into legal and ethical issues associated with the use of prisoner informants
  6. Temporal patterns in the development of drug use, criminal behaviour and drug treatment
  7. An evaluation of protective behaviours: a school-based anti-victim program
  8. A study of Victorian Aboriginal offending 1986-1992
  9. Family violence: young people and youth workers informing government about the implementation of mandatory reporting
  10. Reducing crime and the fear of crime through environmental design
  11. The detection of domestic violence through routine assessment at drug and alcohol treatment centres
  12. Police culture and the handling of domestic violence: an urban/rural comparison

Hypnosis, memory, and behaviour in the forensic setting

Report title: Hypnosis, Memory, and Behaviour in the Forensic Setting (PDF 3MB)
Grantees: Prof Kevin McConkey and Prof Peter Sheehan, School of Psychology, The University of New South Wales, New South Wales
Criminology Research Council grant ; (16/86)

In the book published from this research (Hypnosis, Memory and Behaviour in Criminal Investigation, 1995, Guilford Press, New York) the authors focus on the issues that arise when one is trying to conduct or to evaluate an attempt to enhance memory with hypnosis, and when hypnosis is used in an attempt to commit an act that is criminal. The study aims to present, evaluate, and offer guidance on matters that experts have to consider in these areas, and to balance priorities when experts are seeking to act effectively and ethically in their interactions with the forensic system as a whole.

The themes and issues that the authors take up stem from two main sources: their own research with a variety of forensic cases, and their view that the literature to date has under emphasised the complexity of the issues and their importance in practice. The study emphasises the need for effective procedures and ethical actions when hypnosis is used in the forensic setting.

A study to assess the rate of recidivism among Victorian (major) offenders, and factors which affect the recidivism rate

Report title: Recidivism Rates in a Custodial Population: The Influence of Criminal History, Offence & Gender Factors (PDF 2.5MB)
Grantees: Stuart Ross and Tricia Guarnieri, National Criminal Courts Statistics Unit, Australian Bureau of Statistics
Criminology Research Council grant ; (35/89)

This research examines in detail the interactions between the personal characteristics of offenders as they bear on reoffending patterns. By focussing on the reoffending of released prisoners, the research provides insight into the behaviour of offenders who are at a relatively "developed" stage of their criminal career. It is argued that recidivism needs to be understood as a complex, dynamic feature of criminal career patterns, that it is influenced by an array of factors, only some of which are under the control of criminal justice agencies, and the use of recidivism as a measure of system effectiveness needs to take into account these factors if it is to provide a meaningful measure of system performance.

The study followed the recidivism patterns of 838 offenders on their release from Victorian prisons between May 1985 and December 1986, for a period of seven and a half years, using officially recorded data. Four measures were used to examine recidivism, re-conviction, re-imprisonment, time to fail and re-offending rates. In the seven years after their release, a total of 620 of the 838 prisoners in the full sample (74%) were reconvicted of at least one offence. Just over one-quarter of all releasees had been re-convicted of a further offence within three months of release, one third were re-convicted within five months of release, and by the end of the first year, the proportion re-convicted reached one-half.

Evaluation of the capacity of community based corrections to reduce recidivism

Report title: The Supervision of Offenders - What Works? (PDF 3.5MB) The Supervision of Offenders - What Works? - second report (PDF 2.5MB)
Grantees: Chris Trotter, Office of Corrections, Victoria
Criminology Research Council grant ; (41/89)

This study examines what factors in the community supervision of offenders are related to reduced recidivism rates. A group of Community Corrections Officers were offered training in a "pro-social" supervision model which included each of the principles of effective supervision. The Community Corrections Officers were then asked to use the supervision model with their clients.

Three hundred and eighty-five clients were then followed up, after one year and after four years, through a client questionnaire and through analysis of client files and police records. The results of the study showed that offenders who were supervised by these Community Corrections Officers received more assistance with their problems, and were less likely, even after four years, to commit serious violent offences. It was also evident from the results of the study that offenders on community work sites where they associated with other offenders were more likely to commit further offences and to breach their orders.

Since the publication of the first report on this project Community Corrections Divisions in both Victoria and New Zealand have offered training in the "pro-social model" to most of their Probation Officers and Community Corrections Officers.

Statistical models for adult offender populations

Report title: Re-arrest Probabilities for the 1984-1993 apprehended Western Australian Population: A survival analysis (PDF 2MB)
Grantees: Dr Rod Broadhurst and Mr N S Loh, Crime Research Centre, The University of Western Australia, Western Australia
Criminology Research Council grant ; (23/90)

A large population of all persons arrested by police in Western Australia for the first time between 1 April 1984 and 30 June 30 1993 were followed up to determine if they had ever been re-arrested. Probabilities of re-arrest were estimated at 0.52 for male non-Aboriginal people, 0.36 for female non-Aboriginal people, 0.88 for male Aboriginal people and 0.85 for female Aboriginal people. Significant variations in the probability of re-arrest and/or the time to re-arrest for different age groups, the number of times arrested, occupational status, offence group, place of birth and bail status were observed. Co-variate analysis of non-Aboriginal people found with the offence of "driving under the influence" (DUI) was also undertaken to test the significance of difference in probabilities of re-arrest for sub-groups. Probabilities of re-arrest were: for males 0.47 for any offence and 0.31 for a repeat DUI; and for females 0.34 for any offence and 0.20 for a repeat DUI. The results are discussed in the light of estimates of re-imprisonment and the utility of offender risk assessment.

An investigation into legal and ethical issues associated with the use of prisoner informants

Report title: Research Grant on Prison Informers
Grantees: Assoc Prof David Brown, University of New South Wales, New South Wales
Criminology Research Council grant ; (13/91)

This research outlined the major conditions encouraging the use of prison informers. A detailed article was prepared outlining the nature of the prison inmate code on informing. The key issues for public debate and political response were identified as being the reliability of evidence emerging from prison informers and integrity of the legal processes. Accordingly a number of regulatory proposals and reforms were made in the course of the research.

A number of the recommendations arising from this research have been addressed or adopted by various agencies. For example, the High Court has laid down a requirement for a prison informer warning; an inquiry was held specifically into the use of informants conducted by the NSW ICAC, and the ICAC has released two inquiry reports containing a range of recommendations, including an informer handling policy for police, which has been adopted by the NSW Police Service; the NSW DPP has instituted an Informer Index and elaborate policy guidelines in relation to informers; and the NSW Government has tightened various legislative criteria in relation to sentence discounts.

Temporal patterns in the development of drug use, criminal behaviour and drug treatment

Report title: Out of Harms Reach: An evaluation of the effectiveness of different levels of treatment at Odyssey House (PDF 7.1MB)
Grantees: Assoc Prof Margaret Hamilton, The University of Melbourne, Victoria
Criminology Research Council grant ; (12/92-3)

Funding for this study enabled an existing investigation examining drug treatment in the Melbourne Odyssey House therapeutic community to be extended to include a more detailed analysis of archived records relating to convictions and incarcerations. Analyses addressed the temporal association between drug use, criminal behaviour and treatment. Follow-up procedures were able to successfully locate 75 per cent of a target sample of 427 ex-therapeutic residents treated between 1984 and 1988. Interviews were conducted with 255 or 60 per cent and an additional 20 (5 per cent) were officially confirmed to have died in the period prior to follow-up. The available evidence supported the conclusion that findings for those interviewed could be generalised to the Odyssey population.

Examination revealed exposure to the Odyssey program to be an important predictor of outcomes following treatment. In the most recent year prior to interview three variables significantly predicted outcomes. Attaining a higher treatment level in the Odyssey program was the most stable predictor of reduced criminal involvement. Those aged between 26 and 29 who had used opiates for less than five years of admission evidenced an independently reduced probability of criminal involvement. Those incarcerated prior to admission were more likely to be criminally involved in the most recent year.

The results suggest further investigation of the therapeutic community treatment model as an appropriate direction for corrections work with the large class of offenders for whom drug dependence and antisocial behaviour are connected. In particular it is recommended that the therapeutic community model should be carefully examined with respect to its relevance as an alternative to prison.

An evaluation of protective behaviours: a school-based anti-victim program

Report title: An Evaluation of Protective Behaviours: A School-based Anti-Victim Program
Grantees: Techsearch Inc., University of South Australia, South Australia
Criminology Research Council grant ; (36/92-3)

Child abuse is recognised as a major social problem in our community and a variety of initiatives aim to alleviate the problem. One approach has been to develop school based primary prevention programs directed at improving the abilities of children to avoid or resist abuse. The Protective Behaviours program is such a program. In South Australia, large numbers of teachers and child care workers have been trained to teach Protective Behaviours to children.

The Review was planned in two linked stages. Stage 1, which was undertaken during 1993, focussed on teachers' use of the Protective Behaviours program. Stage 2, which was undertaken during 1994, focussed on student outcomes.

A survey approach was selected to generate information about teachers' use of the Protective Behaviours program. A questionnaire was developed, trialled, and administered to a stratified random sample of over 1400 teachers who had been trained in Protective Behaviours.

From this analysis several ways of promoting the wider teaching of personal safety programs like Protective Behaviours were suggested.

The results of this study reveal complex and, at times, perplexing insights into the thinking of children about personal safety issues. They serve to remind proponents of personal safety education that none of the concepts and strategies used in programs can be assumed to be learnt by all children. Children's responses to physical and emotional maltreatment, for example, were shown to be very different from their responses to sexual maltreatment. The findings do, however, give qualified support to the efficacy of the Protective Behaviours program and provide some evidence to support its essential rationale.

A study of Victorian Aboriginal offending 1986-1992

Report title: A Study of Victorian Aboriginal Offending 1986-1992 (PDF 13MB)
Grantees: Ruben Allas and Sarah James, Aboriginal Legal Service Co-operative, Victoria
Criminology Research Council grant ; (1/93-4)

The results of this research indicate that based on the statistical analysis of Koorie offending in Victoria between 1989-90 and 1993-94, Koorie contact with the criminal justice system in Victoria has become worse over the five-year post-Royal Commission period of analysis.

The proportion of offenders in country Victoria as compared with metropolitan Melbourne has increased markedly between 1989-90 and 1993-94 from 48 per cent to 59 per cent respectively. Similarly, the average increase in Koorie offending rates per 100 000 persons is particularly high in country Victoria (39.7 per cent) and only marginal in metropolitan Melbourne (2.7 per cent).

There have been various law reform initiatives as well as many recommendations of the Royal Commission pertaining to law and justice in this area. However, the Royal Commission's recommendation to decriminalise public drunkenness has not been implemented in Victoria and the research shows that this is having disproportionate effects on Koories in Victoria.

Family violence: young people and youth workers informing government about the implementation of mandatory reporting

Report title: Family Violence: Young People and Youth Workers Informing Government about the Implementation of Mandatory Reporting in Victoria
Grantees: Youth Affairs Council of Victoria and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Victoria
Criminology Research Council grant ; (15/93-4)

This study questioned young people and youth sector workers about various aspects of new Victorian mandatory reporting laws. Focus groups were conducted by peer researchers with 163 young people comprising a mix of those who had experienced and had not experienced protective intervention, and a specially designed self-report survey was administered to 150 workers drawn from the membership of the peak youth affairs body for the State. The data identify the knowledge skill and training needs of youth sector workers and the common concerns of young people about the impact of the new laws. The report makes a series of recommendations with respect to legislative and administrative changes, training, information, program initiatives and research:

Reducing crime and the fear of crime through environmental design

Report title: Designing Safer Communities - Life on the Coast: Reducing Crime through Environmental Design
Grantees: Prof P Wilson, Prof B Lim, Dr J Minnery and B Wileman, Bond University and Queensland University of Technology, Queensland
Criminology Research Council grant ; (22/93-4)

One approach to reducing both criminal activity and fear of crime in urban areas is through deliberate and conscious design of the built environment. This approach to creating safer cities is known as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).

This research study, which was conducted in selected areas of the Gold Coast, developed an environmental crime prevention instrument designed to operationalise generally accepted principles of CPTED. The study also tested a survey instrument which explored fear of crime and actual experience of crime. The instruments tested whether dwellings, streets and neighbourhoods which score high on measures of CPTED have lower rates and incidence of fear of crime than those which score low on measures of CPTED.

The study attempted to expand the range of options available to crime prevention agencies. A strong association between high household and street CPTED values and low rates of crime was found. Thus, CPTED principles might well be relevant in reducing property crimes.

If good design principles are applied to existing development by upgrading the environmental factors of households, streets and neighbourhoods, property crime rates could be reduced. Similarly, if CPTED principles are adopted in proposed developments, the level of security is likely to be increased.

The detection of domestic violence through routine assessment at drug and alcohol treatment centres

Report title: The Detection of Domestic Violence through Routine Assessment at Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centres Volume 1 (PDF 11MB) Volume 2 (PDF 14MB)
Grantees: Dr Michelle Gomel and Dr Robert Gertler, The University of Sydney, New South Wales
Criminology Research Council grant ; (26/93-4)

This project was undertaken in five clinics, both public and private, specialising in the longer term treatment of substance abuse, in the Sydney metropolitan area. It examined the prevalence of both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence amongst more than 250 clients of the drug and alcohol clinics. By using both semi-structured interviews and standardised self-completion questionnaires, the investigators were able to determine psychodemographic characteristics for both victims and perpetrators.

A very high prevalence of both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence amongst clients of the clinics was found. A large proportion of clients were in mutually violent relationships. The inter-relationship between domestic violence and substance abuse was found to be important in a number of ways. The influence of the family of origin was strong, both in terms of exposure to parental drug and alcohol use and experiencing or witnessing parental violence.

The investigators developed an educational package designed to better inform staff about domestic violence, to increase detection rates and to improve management responses such as the instigation of changes to intake procedures and the addition of a clinical program component for both staff and clients. Subsequent assessment of the educational program found that more victims and perpetrators were being identified and that this was occurring at an earlier stage of the admission.

Police culture and the handling of domestic violence: an urban/rural comparison

Report title: Police Culture and the Handling of Domestic Violence: An Urban/Rural Comparison (PDF 16MB)
Grantee: Joan Knowles, Tasmania
Criminology Research Council grant ; (41/93-4)

This report describes the culture of uniformed police in Tasmania. It is based on five months' fieldwork with the police in southern Tasmania. The report examines the influence of police culture on the handling of domestic violence.

The report discusses the way in which the police make decisions about how they handle domestic violence incidents.

At the operational level the relationship between the police and the other agencies dealing with domestic violence is poor. Uniformed police officers feel they get inadequate support from both the agencies directly involved in dealing with domestic violence and also the other agencies, such as the Child Protection Unit whom they may have to call upon for assistance. In order to change the relationship between the support services and the police, and to improve the overall handling of domestic violence cases, the main recommendations made in this report can be summarised as follows:

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