Submission: ALRC Inquiry into the Incarceration Rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

In this submission, Redfern Legal Centre (RLC) focuses on the impact of policing on the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

Background

On 17 July 2017 the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) released a discussion paper on Incarceration Rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and called for comments and feedback on the questions and proposals it contained.

The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry ask the ALRC to consider laws and legal frameworks that contribute to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and inform decisions to hold or keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody. 

This submission – co-authored by Sophie Parker, Police Powers and Administrative Law Solicitor at RLC, and Vicki Sentas, Senior Lecturer at the University of NSW and convenor of the RLC UNSW Police Powers Clinic – draws upon RLC’s unique expertise in the area of policing and police misconduct to discuss the impact of policing methods and approaches to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Summary

RLC's submission examines how improper exercise of specific police powers in policing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities can disproportionately and negatively impact the frequency of an individual’s contact with police, leading to further offending, unnecessary arrest and incarceration.

To address concerns about misuse of police powers and its negative impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration rates, our submission makes a number of recommendations for law reform on the topics of offensive language, use of street powers, bail, proactive policing and police accountability. 

The submission is supplemented by case studies of RLC clients that illustrate the often-vicious cycle of offending, police surveillance, police interventions, re-offending and arrest for minor offences that RLC regularly observes in its police misconduct work.

Download RLC's submission

The ALRC will present its report on the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the Attorney-General by 22 December 2017.​