‘Holis­tic’ ap­proach proves pos­i­tive

Herald Sun - - NEWS - ANDREA HAMBLIN

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.

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