Crime and its control are constantly changing phenomena. New forms of crime are created by population movements, changes in demographics, particularly the growth in the number of older Australians, new developments in commerce and the global economy including changes in how goods and services are purchased and paid for, the creation of new information and communications technologies and finally changes in public administration with moves towards a smaller public sector and enhanced opportunities for outsourcing to the private sector. At the same time, these drivers of change may reduce crime risks as criminals age and as crime prevention initiatives respond to the new areas of risk that are present.
Along with changes in criminality, there are variations in how we respond to the problem. Responses to crime that make use of novel design ideas and environmental insights into how criminals exploit newly-created opportunities for offending can arise, as do developments that seek to respond to individual risk factors and developmental precursors of criminality.
The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has already undertaken extensive research into so-called primary and secondary responses to new and developing forms of crime, by looking at ways to prevent crime before it occurs and responding to those at high risk of offending. For example, AIC’s cybercrime research has focused on crimes enabled by new technologies, and examined the different ways of preventing them—often involving the same technologies that have led to the creation of these crime risks in the first place.
The current work, exploring the futures of crime and justice, targets tertiary crime prevention by examining the operation of the criminal justice system that deals with offending after it has happened. The primary focus is on intervening in the lives of known offenders in an attempt to change their pathways and preventing them from re-offending.
The focus of this work is on the three central criminal justice sectors—law enforcement, the courts and corrections. The aims of this program are to:
- identify critical future policy questions and issues affecting law enforcement, the courts and corrections for the ensuring five years
- document the nature and extent of the problems identified
- canvass the views of stakeholders in the sectors examined concerning the problems identified
- forecast how agencies in these sectors might approach responding to the changes identified
- develop best practice solutions to the problems examined
The program has focussed on two research topics:
- an assessment of the benefits and limitations of video technologies in the criminal courts
- a review of recent innovations in the use of information and communications technologies in correctional settings in Australia.