Policing in Indigenous communities is a vast topic to summarise, analyse and discuss in a few thousand words. It is an important issue on any range of measures. It is also an issue that demands attention to a range of broad political, socio-economic, cultural and historical contexts, as well as the more mundane matters of police operational concern. The political context requires us to understand the parameters in which Indigenous communities operate including the nature of Indigenous political demands and the key organisations that articulate those demands. The socio-economic context requires us to have knowledge about the position of Indigenous people in Australian society, in particular the consequences which arise from the profound level of disadvantage which many communities face and the impact that has on the relationship with the criminal justice system. The cultural context requires some knowledge about the nature of social relationships and cultural concerns in communities. Finally, the historical context is probably more important for police than any other government organisation delivering a service in Aboriginal communities, because police were an important arm in implementing government policy for Indigenous people in many parts of Australia during the much of the twentieth century.
Given the complexity of the topic, this chapter will be selective and, from necessity, concentrate relatively briefly on a few key themes. They include an analysis of the background to the contemporary relationship between police and Indigenous people; a discussion of some of the key drivers for reform including the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and more recently Aboriginal Justice Advisory Councils and the development of Aboriginal Justice Agreements; and a discussion of some of the key policing approaches specific to Indigenous communities such as Aboriginal liaison officers and Aboriginal community police.
Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure
Date of this Version
Chris Cunneen, "Policing in Indigenous Communities" (May 2008). University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series 2008. Working Paper 25.