On the blog: Reducing crime and repeat calls for service

Detective Inspector Mark Rowswell

Detective Inspector Mark Rowswell is currently the Officer-in-Charge of Proactive Policing in the Community Safety portfolio of ACT Policing.

Detective Inspector Rowswell joined the AFP in September 2002 and was posted to Adelaide office. In November 2003, he moved to ACT Policing for a secondment and decided to remain. He performed general duties in Woden and Belconnen Police Stations before moving to Criminal Investigations in 2007. He worked in Belconnen Crime and the Crime Targeting team, attaining his Detective designation in 2009. He also undertook acting positions as the Operation Support Sergeant and the Victim Liaison Officer Sergeant.

In 2019, Mark was promoted to Inspector in Community Safety. The role involves community liaison, education, diversion and the new proactive policing teams under the Police Services Model funding. He is currently a member of the Family Investigative Liaison Officer network and ACT Policing Disaster Victim Identification Commander. He led the Clandestine Laboratory Team for the past four years and now is a part time member of this team.

 

It’s an exciting and busy time for ACT Policing as myself and many others put in place our new Proactive Intervention and Disruption capability.

The Canberra community continues to grow, it’s becoming more diverse and as a result, crime is now more complex than ever. Over the past five years ACT Policing has seen a 30 per cent increase in incidents of a critical and time important nature.

As a result, the average time required by police members to manage incidents has increased to levels that over time could become unsustainable. Several factors have led us to this point where police must be more flexible than ever, such as the rise of cyber-crime, an ageing population, more diverse languages and cultural differences in our community, increasing mental health incidents, drug and alcohol abuse, disengaged youth and recidivist offending. In fact, 80 per cent of the jobs we attend don’t result in a recorded offence, however left without further treatments and connections with community services can result in future callouts for police.

For many members this increase in complexity and repeatedly attending the same sorts of jobs can be frustrating. We become police officers because we want to keep the community safe and connected, we are after all problem solvers, and under our new model of police services first and foremost focused on prevention.

Prevention First

In 2019 we started on a journey to realise our new Police Services Model. A prevention-focused philosophy for how ACT Policing now approaches crime and restorative justice in our community. It includes a number of new capabilities, team and technologies, the most substantial of which is the introduction of three Proactive Intervention and Disruption teams.

My new team doesn’t just attend jobs, they look at the critical pain points and recurring issues and dig deeper than ever. This can be anything from ensuring vulnerable youths have a safe home to go back to, to people who need mental health support getting the right support or even just spending more time in the community interacting with the public.

With the new model, we are more focused than ever on working with our partners across the community sector to ensure those who need help get the right help. It all starts with a philosophy of prevention and disruption that starts with ACT Policing members asking themselves three questions:

  • Why do we keep dealing with this person?
  • Why do we keep attending this location?
  • Why do we keep dealing with this issue?

The Team’s Focus

When there’s a regular or systematic issue response members are encountering, that’s where the new teams come in to assist. They work across Canberra and undertake a range of activities, including prevention, disruption, engagement, education and diversion activities. The remit is broad, but there are a five criteria they look at:

  1. Is the problem causing a repeat call for service, which is impacting on policing resources?
  2. Does the problem focus on vulnerable or young people?
  3. Does the problem align with ACT Policing, AFP and ACT Government’s strategic priorities?
  4. Does solving the problem help to build relationships with the community and other agencies?
  5. Is the problem a crime or non-crime related matter?

Better Outcomes for Canberrans

At the end of the day by tackling the root cause of repeated calls for police services across our city in this new dedicated way will create more time and capacity for our response teams. This means faster callouts, more visible patrols and ultimately a safer Canberra.

It also means myself and many others go home at the end of our shifts knowing we’re doing the most we can to get Canberra’s most vulnerable people the right assistance when they need it, and most importantly, diverting them away from the criminal justice system and a future life of crime.