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Wayne

Wayne Harris

Year of Award: 2013 Award State: Northern Territory Emergency Services > Police
To identify successful methodologies that provide alternatives to incarcerating intoxicated persons in police watch houses - USA, Canada
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I undertook to commit to the research and study tour with the specific aim of identifying, observing, learning and understanding programs, processes and models in the United States and Canada that provided alternatives to the quick fix “out of sight, out of mind” approach incorporated into the current practice of simply placing intoxicated individuals who have not committed a crime into the punitive environment associated with police lock ups.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014) data shows the Indigenous population of the Northern Territory to be 71,111 or 30% of the total population.

The table within the Executive Summary of this report provides a breakdown of the numbers of Northern Territory persons taken into protective custody from the years 2007-08 to 2013-14. In the 2013-14 financial year, a total of 13,248 persons were taken into protective custody of which 11,868 or 89.58% of the total were Indigenous.

Significant Police resources in the Northern Territory are dedicated to providing for and ensuring the wellbeing of the Indigenous population with high levels of unemployment, chronic poor health, drug and alcohol abuse.

In the USA and Canada I targeted locations where both large Indigenous and non-indigenous populations experienced similar lower socio-economic status issues to those prevalent in the Northern Territory. I was able to examine the different jurisdictional approaches to the protective custody of people incapacitated by alcohol or drugs and identify synergies shared between law enforcement and other government and non-government agencies.

I engaged with a wide range of professionals in law enforcement, health and welfare, along with, charitable and volunteer organisations. Through meetings, hands-on experiences and observations I gained knowledge and understanding a wide variety of service delivery models with a particular focus on programs targeting rehabilitation of recidivist alcoholics and keeping individuals out of police lock ups.

I was particularly interested in how different agencies took into account cultural requirements and program funding models and identifying opportunities for the innovative involvement of Non-Government Agencies.

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