Fathers of the Year: the Queensland Police Force as a leader in juvenile justice in the years before Fitzgerald

Paul Bleakley1
1University Of New England, Armidale, Australia

In spite of its reputation as a department riddled with corruption and misconduct for much of the 20th Century, the Queensland Police Force enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as international trailblazers in the field of youth justice. Like the majority of police forces around Australia, Queensland police used the broad spectrum provisions of the Vagrants Act and other summary offences laws to discipline and, at times, harass young Queenslanders throughout the earlier half of the century; for the most part, this policy shifted dramatically upon the ascension of Francis Erich Bischof to the position of Police Commissioner. Widely considered to be the founding father of corruption in the Queensland Police Force, Bischof’s establishment of the state’s Juvenile Aid Bureau (JAB) has been lauded for its revolutionary introduction of the counsel-and-caution approach to youth crime. Though the JAB’s use of discretionary enforcement was heavily criticised in the reformist Whitrod era (1970-76), analysis of youth recidivism data indicates that the policy was an effective strategy in diverting young people from early interactions with the judicial system. While the Queensland Police Force faced a myriad of other problems associated with graft and cronyism, it is argued that its adoption of a counsel-and-caution policy fundamentally improved its approach to young people over the course of the 20th Century and stands as the single greatest contribution to Queensland policing of the Bischof era.

Paul Bleakley is a third year doctoral student who is currently attending the University of New England. With an academic focus on historical criminology, his interests are in police corruption and its impact on the community. A former journalist and news editor at major publications in both the United Kingdom and Australia, Paul worked primarily as a correspondent concentrating on crime and politics. He has also published work exploring the development of the modern counterculture, sexuality and popular culture.


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