It is likely that a multi-dimensional strategy spanning timeframes, social scales and government jurisdictions is needed to address violence in public places.
Increases in the frequency and severity of violence in public places – a problem across all jurisdictions in Australia – led Victoria Police to commission Australia21 to explore, in some depth, issues of antisocial behaviour and risks to public safety. A roundtable was convened in October 2008 to address the question: What are the precursors and triggers of antisocial behaviour and the options for improved policy intervention to reduce such activity in public spaces?
Some participants focused on immediate, direct interventions to address public violence, others emphasized a broader, social-development perspective. Nevertheless, most, if not all, participants agreed on the need for a multi-dimensional strategy spanning timeframes, social scales and government jurisdictions. Key responses from the roundtable included:
- Developing a clearer ‘typology’ of violence, which clearly identifies types of violence, the victims, the offenders, localities, and backgrounds.
- Achieving a better mix of regulatory strategies that balance economic and social goals and objectives, combine informal and formal regulation, and can be adapted to suit different localities. This mix should include stronger and enforceable regulation of licensed premises.
- Providing the necessary focus, support and resources to tackle violence, as has been done successfully with road safety.
- Increased policing of randomly selected premises at random times, and more targeted policing of problem premises.
- Training bar staff in managing all aggressive behaviours, not just drunkenness.
- Holding organisers of public events more responsible and accountable for the social and health costs of these events.
- Exploring the use of a ‘peer court’ to involve young people in the court process.
- Broadening the focus of the education system beyond academic achievement and vocational qualifications to make the curriculum more relevant to young people’s lives and passions.
- Introducing specific programs in schools to enhance the social and emotional wellbeing of students.
- Investing in increased parent education on parenting from birth to adolescence.
- Recognising the contribution of the media and communications technologies to violence, and acting to minimise these impacts.
- Making more use of public-education campaigns to promote notions like ‘look after your mates’, ‘one punch can kill’, or ‘weapons are for wimps’.
- Encouraging local communities to become more involved in crime prevention.
Download Public Violence Report 1 Richard Eckersley, R & Reeder, L 2008, Violence in public places: A report on an expert roundtable for Victoria Police, Australia21, Canberra.