First Impressions. Harm reduction through police engagement recognised for more than halving assault

Australian Institute of Criminology

Queensland Police Service’s (QPS) First Drinks: First Impressions Harm reduction through police engagement project today received a gold award in the police-led category of the 2019 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards (ACVPA).

The ACVPA recognise best practice in the prevention or reduction of violence and other types of crime in Australia and play a vital role in highlighting effective community-based initiatives to prevent crime and violence.

QPS Senior Sergeant Troy Lehmann, Operation Leader of the the Entertainment Precinct Group, said the project involves police working with researchers from Griffith University to engage with patrons entering the Surfer’s Paradise Night-time Entertainment District, offering them a breathalyser test, providing feedback on their results and informing them about the precinct that night.

“Having police officers engage with patrons at the beginning of the night has reduced assault rates by more than 58 per cent in comparison to when this does not occur, and also made people more likely to interact with police before trouble began later in the night” said Senior Sergeant Lehmann.

“Winning this award brings further positive attention to the officers and researchers who are working so hard to increase police legitimacy and reduce harm to the public and the number of victims of crime by reducing the number of assaults in the Night-time Entertainment District.”

The annual ACVPA recognise the outstanding contributions being made across Australia for crime prevention, including the development and implementation of practical projects to reduce violence and other types of crime in the community.

“The First Drinks: First Impressions project has great potential to be adopted in other states and territories to reduce drunken behaviour and further promote police legitimacy” said Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) Director, Michael Phelan APM.

All projects are assessed each year by the ACVPA Board, which consists of senior law enforcement representatives from each state and territory police service, and chaired by the AIC Director.

The awards are a joint initiative of the Australian, state and territory governments, coordinated by the AIC and co-sponsored by the Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency Management.

/Public Release.