Absconding from care: The criminalisation of missing children

E. Colvin1*, K. McFarlane2, A. Gerard3, A. McGrath4

1 Centre for Law and Justice, Charles Sturt University
2 Centre for Law and Justice, Charles Sturt University
3 Centre for Law and Justice, Charles Sturt University
4 School of Psychology, Charles Sturt University

*corresponding author: ecolvin@csu.edu.au

In Australia and internationally, children in out–of-home care (OOHC) are significantly over-represented in the criminal justice system. Our research sought to understand the underlying causes of the cohort’s involvement in the criminal justice system. This paper presents qualitative data with 41 residential care and criminal justice professionals interviewed between 2014-16 in regional and metropolitan New South Wales, Australia. We interviewed key frontline professionals – NSW Police Force, Juvenile Justice officers, defence lawyers and non-government OOHC organisations on their perceptions of what drove the cohort’s over-representation in the criminal justice system and what interventions might arrest the trend. A key theme emerging from the research was the number of children absconding from care and the way in which the system responded to these children. International research has demonstrated that children absconding from care placements are generally viewed by police and carers as problematic. Our research not only confirms this but also identifies that the particular reporting systems in place designed to protect children actually serve to further compound the issue by conflating absconding with delinquency. This can lead to devastating outcomes for some children, as seen in the police failure to act on child sexual exploitation/trafficking in Rotherham, UK. Our research has clearly established that the institutional responses to absconding from OOHC contributes to the cohort’s overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.

Biography

Dr Colvin has been a criminology lecturer in the Justice Studies discipline at Charles Sturt University since 2013. She completed her PhD in 2015 examining the implementation and impact of pre-trial support services in Victoria.

Absconding from care: The criminalisation of missing children

E. Colvin1*, K. McFarlane2, A. Gerard3, A. McGrath4

1 Centre for Law and Justice, Charles Sturt University
2 Centre for Law and Justice, Charles Sturt University
3 Centre for Law and Justice, Charles Sturt University
4 School of Psychology, Charles Sturt University

*corresponding author: ecolvin@csu.edu.au

In Australia and internationally, children in out–of-home care (OOHC) are significantly over-represented in the criminal justice system. Our research sought to understand the underlying causes of the cohort’s involvement in the criminal justice system. This paper presents qualitative data with 41 residential care and criminal justice professionals interviewed between 2014-16 in regional and metropolitan New South Wales, Australia. We interviewed key frontline professionals – NSW Police Force, Juvenile Justice officers, defence lawyers and non-government OOHC organisations on their perceptions of what drove the cohort’s over-representation in the criminal justice system and what interventions might arrest the trend. A key theme emerging from the research was the number of children absconding from care and the way in which the system responded to these children. International research has demonstrated that children absconding from care placements are generally viewed by police and carers as problematic. Our research not only confirms this but also identifies that the particular reporting systems in place designed to protect children actually serve to further compound the issue by conflating absconding with delinquency. This can lead to devastating outcomes for some children, as seen in the police failure to act on child sexual exploitation/trafficking in Rotherham, UK. Our research has clearly established that the institutional responses to absconding from OOHC contributes to the cohort’s overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.

Biography

Dr Colvin has been a criminology lecturer in the Justice Studies discipline at Charles Sturt University since 2013. She completed her PhD in 2015 examining the implementation and impact of pre-trial support services in Victoria.

Child-abuse preventive practices of Tasmanian Anglican clergy: A situational crime prevention analysis

M.A.Guerzoni

School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania, Australia, M.A.Guerzoni@utas.edu.au

Clergy-child sexual abuse and the subsequent responses of church institutions and clerical superiors has received significant academic attention over the last decade, particularly within the Roman Catholic Church.  Such scholastic inquiry has focussed upon several core subject matters: offenders and theorisations as to abuse causation; institutional responses; and survivors.  A major finding through this research is that, contrary to popular belief, paraphilic orientations towards children has not been found to be present amongst the majority of offenders, both within church and general society, pointing to the importance of power, place and opportunity as causative variables for sexual offending against children.  Notwithstanding the thorough and detailed work published to date there are significant underdevelopments in this field.  Firstly, little research has been conducted into Christian denominations other than Roman Catholicism. Secondly, inquiry has thus far largely ignored the ‘everyday cleric’ and their activities, attitudes and practices towards preventing child sexual abuse.  Presenting initial findings from research on clerical habitus in Tasmania, this paper seeks to address ‘clerical collar crime’ through examining the everyday ministerial practices of clergy in the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania. The framework of Situational Crime Prevention will be used to evaluate the feasibility of employed child-safe clerical practices and provide comment on how these practices could be further altered through professional development.

Biography

Michael Andre Guerzoni is a current PhD candidate in the Sociology and Criminology Program, School of Social Sciences at the University of Tasmania, Australia. He holds a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in Criminology from the University of Tasmania. Michael Andre’s research examines clerical cultures, clerical practices, and church secrecy pertaining to clergy-child sexual abuse and child protection within Catholicism and Anglicanism.

Child-abuse preventive practices of Tasmanian Anglican clergy: A situational crime prevention analysis

M.A.Guerzoni

School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania, Australia, M.A.Guerzoni@utas.edu.au

Clergy-child sexual abuse and the subsequent responses of church institutions and clerical superiors has received significant academic attention over the last decade, particularly within the Roman Catholic Church.  Such scholastic inquiry has focussed upon several core subject matters: offenders and theorisations as to abuse causation; institutional responses; and survivors.  A major finding through this research is that, contrary to popular belief, paraphilic orientations towards children has not been found to be present amongst the majority of offenders, both within church and general society, pointing to the importance of power, place and opportunity as causative variables for sexual offending against children.  Notwithstanding the thorough and detailed work published to date there are significant underdevelopments in this field.  Firstly, little research has been conducted into Christian denominations other than Roman Catholicism. Secondly, inquiry has thus far largely ignored the ‘everyday cleric’ and their activities, attitudes and practices towards preventing child sexual abuse.  Presenting initial findings from research on clerical habitus in Tasmania, this paper seeks to address ‘clerical collar crime’ through examining the everyday ministerial practices of clergy in the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania. The framework of Situational Crime Prevention will be used to evaluate the feasibility of employed child-safe clerical practices and provide comment on how these practices could be further altered through professional development.

Biography

Michael Andre Guerzoni is a current PhD candidate in the Sociology and Criminology Program, School of Social Sciences at the University of Tasmania, Australia. He holds a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in Criminology from the University of Tasmania. Michael Andre’s research examines clerical cultures, clerical practices, and church secrecy pertaining to clergy-child sexual abuse and child protection within Catholicism and Anglicanism.

The false, but persistent, notion of benefit of clergy

T. Krone

University of Canberra, tony.krone@canberra.edu.au

This paper draws on the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and examines the degree to which institutions have been prepared to treat allegations of child sexual abuse within their institution as an internal matter. It asks why have so many institutions failed in the past to report allegations of child sexual abuse to police? In particular, the paper looks at whether institutions have justified their responses using outdated and legally incorrect notions such as that of ‘the benefit of clergy’.

Biography

Tony Krone is Justice Studies convenor at the University of Canberra. He has actively researched and written on cybercrime issues, particularly online sexual exploitation of children. Tony has worked in practice as a criminal lawyer and legal policy advisor to government.

The false, but persistent, notion of benefit of clergy

T. Krone

University of Canberra, tony.krone@canberra.edu.au

This paper draws on the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and examines the degree to which institutions have been prepared to treat allegations of child sexual abuse within their institution as an internal matter. It asks why have so many institutions failed in the past to report allegations of child sexual abuse to police? In particular, the paper looks at whether institutions have justified their responses using outdated and legally incorrect notions such as that of ‘the benefit of clergy’.

Biography

Tony Krone is Justice Studies convenor at the University of Canberra. He has actively researched and written on cybercrime issues, particularly online sexual exploitation of children. Tony has worked in practice as a criminal lawyer and legal policy advisor to government.

Locked In Tasmania’s Guatanamo

P. Norden

Adjunct Professor, RMIT University, peter.norden@rmit.edu.au

Not since the isolation regimes of the Port Arthur Prison in the early 19th Century have such draconian penal regimes been imposed on imprisoned individuals as occurred as recently as 2013 with Prisoner X in the maximum security section of Risdon Prison in Tamania.

Could any prisoner administrator anywhere in Australia even imagine what it would be like to endure 23 hour a day isolation in a cell, with no television or radio allowed, with just permission for one book at a time, and no access to contact visits with friends of family members?  Could you imagine what it would be like for one week, or even a month, or a year?  In the case of Prisoner X this regime was imposed for a period that extended for more than three years.

This presentation outlines the form of the Expert Witness Report prepared by the author in a Supreme Court Case brought by Tasmanian civil liberty lawyers on behalf of Prisoner X.  The case was settled out of court after the appointed Tasmanian Supreme Court Justice read the depositions and the reports submitted prior to the hearing and suggested to the Tasmanian Government that the matter had best be settled in favour of Prisoner X outside of the public court hearing.

Biography

Peter Norden is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Global Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University and a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology.

Justice for all, or justice – depending on the status of the offender?

S. Jenkins 

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse has sparked much public debate and controversy over the behaviour of organisations and conditions in institutions. The published case studies from the Royal Commission are illustrative of certain groups of victims, types of offenders or institutional bodies.

This paper has its basis in a wider PhD on access to rights and remedies for victims of crime where offenders are unavailable to the criminal justice system, and presents an analysis of the Royal Commission case studies.

The analysis compares the experiences of victims of abuse where the offender has been held accountable through the formal criminal justice system to experiences of victims where the offender was unknown, or who has since died or become incapacitated and as a result is unable to be held formally accountable.

There is a focus on access to remedies such as victim’s compensation schemes, either state or church run, and to other services such as ease of access and costs of counselling, as well as comparison of victim experiences where the institution is or is not able to be sued civilly for criminal actions because of the institution’s legal status.

As well as these remedies, access to certain victim’s rights such as the ability to make a victim impact statement and have the conduct publicly denounced are also examined, and comparisons drawn between access to rights for victims, contingent on the status of offenders.

The paper concludes with some observations about inequalities created amongst victims purely because of the status of the offenders in the criminal justice system, as well as some recommendations for further research.

Biography

Sharyn is a solicitor in NSW and the High Court. She was admitted to practice in 2009. She has practiced mostly in the area of criminal defense for a private firm, but has also practiced in wills and estates, particularly contested estate matters. She is the current secretary of the Central West Law Society, and a member of the Law Society’s Young Lawyers Criminal Law Committee.

Sharyn has been teaching at CSU since 2013, and completed her diploma in learning and teaching in higher education in 2015. She was the honours co-ordinator for Justice Studies for the second half of 2015, and the Course Director for Law for the first half of 2016.

Sharyn qualified as a registered nurse in 2001 and worked in several emergency departments, including RPA. Whilst working in emergency Sharyn developed an interest in law, and completed her Diploma in Law through the Legal Profession Admission Board. She completed her Master of Laws in 2012 through UNSW, specialising in both International Law and Crime and Criminology. She is a current PhD candidate with UNSW, looking into outcomes for victims where offenders are unavailable to the criminal justice system.”

Justice for all, or justice – depending on the status of the offender?

S. Jenkins 

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse has sparked much public debate and controversy over the behaviour of organisations and conditions in institutions. The published case studies from the Royal Commission are illustrative of certain groups of victims, types of offenders or institutional bodies.

This paper has its basis in a wider PhD on access to rights and remedies for victims of crime where offenders are unavailable to the criminal justice system, and presents an analysis of the Royal Commission case studies.

The analysis compares the experiences of victims of abuse where the offender has been held accountable through the formal criminal justice system to experiences of victims where the offender was unknown, or who has since died or become incapacitated and as a result is unable to be held formally accountable.

There is a focus on access to remedies such as victim’s compensation schemes, either state or church run, and to other services such as ease of access and costs of counselling, as well as comparison of victim experiences where the institution is or is not able to be sued civilly for criminal actions because of the institution’s legal status.

As well as these remedies, access to certain victim’s rights such as the ability to make a victim impact statement and have the conduct publicly denounced are also examined, and comparisons drawn between access to rights for victims, contingent on the status of offenders.

The paper concludes with some observations about inequalities created amongst victims purely because of the status of the offenders in the criminal justice system, as well as some recommendations for further research.

Biography

Sharyn is a solicitor in NSW and the High Court. She was admitted to practice in 2009. She has practiced mostly in the area of criminal defense for a private firm, but has also practiced in wills and estates, particularly contested estate matters. She is the current secretary of the Central West Law Society, and a member of the Law Society’s Young Lawyers Criminal Law Committee.

Sharyn has been teaching at CSU since 2013, and completed her diploma in learning and teaching in higher education in 2015. She was the honours co-ordinator for Justice Studies for the second half of 2015, and the Course Director for Law for the first half of 2016.

Sharyn qualified as a registered nurse in 2001 and worked in several emergency departments, including RPA. Whilst working in emergency Sharyn developed an interest in law, and completed her Diploma in Law through the Legal Profession Admission Board. She completed her Master of Laws in 2012 through UNSW, specialising in both International Law and Crime and Criminology. She is a current PhD candidate with UNSW, looking into outcomes for victims where offenders are unavailable to the criminal justice system.”

‘A few bad apples’ v ‘my culture made me do it’? Comparing narratives of cultural determinism in institutional and racialised gendered violence

Dr Selda Dagistanli

Western Sydney University, s.dagistanli@westernsydney.edu.au

Official and popular commentary, from multiple political perspectives, often seeks to pin down the role of ‘culture’ in explaining incidences of gendered violence and sexual abuse. Yet these narratives rarely, if ever, attempt to define the vague notion of culture or even explain their usage of the term. In cases of gendered violence, the scramble to apportion blame propagates a simplistic binary between absolute free will on the one hand, and cultural determinism on the other. This paper argues that both sides of this binary are troubling. It explains how, when an ethnic, race(d) or religious cultural group is popularly held accountable for instilling an offender with violent attitudes, abuse becomes racialised and whole communities can be subject to racist recriminations. Alternatively, when individual responsibility is solely emphasised cultural frameworks that normalise abusive behaviours are overlooked, the sexual abuse of disadvantaged groups escapes censure, and opportunities for prevention are ignored or, at best, approached superficially. This paper surmises on these themes through a comparative analysis of the official and popular discourses around the racialised sexual abuse cases in Rochdale, UK, and the multiple sexual abuse cases involving Australian Defence Force members that have come to light since the “Skype scandal” of 2011.

Biography

Selda Dagistanli is a lecturer in criminology at Western Sydney University. Selda researches in a range of inter-disciplinary areas relating to “cultures of abuse” and the racialisation of gendered violence, multicultural politics and anti-Muslim racism, and cultural diversity and the law through the critical analysis of legal and political discourses. She is currently completing a monograph with Taylor & Francis titled, Trialling Culture, Protecting Women: Racialising Sexual Violence in Legal and Political Discourses. She has recently been a CI on an ARC Discovery Project exploring ‘Sharia in everyday life in Sydney and New York with Professors Possamai, Turner and Voyce.

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