Arvydas Kniukta

Police find talking the talk turns lives around

INTERACTING with at-risk young people on their own terms can get them off the street and into education, work and long-term housing.

Police officer Corey Allen believes our region's disenfranchised youth can turn their lives around through the power of conversation.

Senior Sergeant Allen, who runs a busy inner-Brisbane police station, says a program he helped start in 2012 also reduced crime.

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The Youth Hot Spots Patrols program employed a culturally-sensitive youth worker and two police officers who simply sat down and talked to 25 young people who were known for causing havoc in Brisbane's CBD.

They then found ways to reconnect the kids - who were from Maori and Pacific Islander communities - with their families, education, employment and housing.

Sen-Sgt Allen said there was a reduction in crime, including robberies and arrests for disobeying police instructions.

He said the concept could be rolled out across any region experiencing youth street crime and homelessness.

"It was a real lesson for us," Sen-Sgt Allen said.

"We found that if we acknowledged where they came from and showed them respect in a tangible way - instead of giving it lip service as most do - we increased our standing with them.

"They expected us to tell them to nick off or try and prosecute them but they didn't expect us to stand there with someone from their community and show that we cared about them.

"Absolutely it can work anywhere."


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