RLC in the Media: RLC calls to end pre-emptive policing

Redfern Legal Centre’s Police Powers solicitor, Sam Lee, speaks to Caitlin McHugh from the Wire about the STMP program, a secretive police program resulting in over-policing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and young people in NSW.

Children as young as 10 years old are being placed on “hidden” blacklists before they have even committed a crime. Sam Lee says that the Suspect Targeting Management Plan (the STMP) has not been shown to be effective at deterring or preventing crime. The justification behind the program, Sam states, is that police believe “it will prevent criminal activity in the future, but there is no actual evidence to support this hypothesis.”

A 2017 report issued by the Youth Justice Coalition NSW (YJC)  found that young people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are disproportionately targeted by the program, with 48.8% of people listed under the STMP being young people under 25, and 54% of people being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The report expressed concern around the unjustified secrecy surrounding the program. STMP guidelines are unavailable to the public, and individuals targeted either unaware they have been placed on the STMP, or are unable to access reasons why they have been placed on STMP, nor how to get removed. This lack of transparency around the operation of the STMP without external scrutiny is highly concerning, particularly given the program's damaging effects on young people. 

As Sam explains, a 2005 Ombudsman report identified that the STMP “further entrenches young people in the criminal justice system, the complete opposite of what it is meant to do.”

The report recommends the seizing of STMP protocols applying to children under 18, with re-offenders instead to be considered for evidence-based prevention programs. The report also pushes for publicly available information regarding the STMP policy, more formal police training regarding its operation and publically available evaluation data examining its effectiveness.

Listen to The Wire interview

See also

Youth Justice Coalition report