‘Holistic’ approach proves positive
THEY say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Last year, Victorians woke daily to headlines about yet another night of youth violence and innocent people left scarred. They got up from their beds to double check the locks, afraid of what might happen when they closed their eyes.
Detectives jotted down victims’ statements — the stuff of nightmares. Four times a day, an officer handcuffed a crook over an aggravated burglary.
And 493 times, it was a child who had been armed — knife, gun, garden stake, even machete — when they burgled or invaded someone’s home.
Young faces became a familiar sight in the lockup.
Too often, the teen had been released from custody days — or hours — before they were in handcuffs again.
“Investigators were getting frustrated,” Detective Senior Sgt Brett Kahan recalled.
“They were literally just investigating, arresting, investigating, arresting. It was clear it wasn’t working ... the crimes weren’t decreasing.” Something had to change. In January, Sen-Sgt Kahan and his team at Taskforce Wayward sat down at Footscray police station and agreed to a more holistic approach to managing repeat offenders.
In a “whole new way of thinking”, detectives no longer look at themselves as being there just to solve crimes, but also to prevent them.
They monitor the movements of 64 “extreme” and “high-risk” teens who live between Little River and Melton.
“The old-school mentality is investigators would hit them with the stick,” Sen-Sgt Kahan said. “Now the investigators are investing in them, and even more so — which is really important — their families.
The basketball court is a better place to meet than a law court: Naya, 14, (above) Blair, 16, (right) and Krishna, 14, (below and below right) take on the police.