Family Engagement Strategies To Reduce Crime Research Paper

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This research paper describes the principles of third-party policing (TPP) on the example of the Family Engagement Strategy (FES). The FES is a police-led partnership approach, tailored to reduce the need for police interventions among high-risk families and juveniles. Key principles of TPP are described. Their application is illustrated on the example of the FES, to highlight some of the key benefits and challenges inherent to TPP. This research paper highlights the usefulness of TPP principles to both high-risk target populations and agencies involved in TPP models.


The Family Engagement Strategy (FES) is a police-led intervention that focuses on high-risk families that generate a disproportionately large number of crime incidents, calls for police service, and arrests. The FES is a police response to the long known fact in criminology that a small number of people are accountable for a disproportionately large number of recorded criminal offenses and civil code violations. These offenses include various forms of antisocial and criminal behavior, youth deviance, and family violence (Sherman 1992; Wolfgang et al. 1972). Research consistently shows that less than 10 % of the juvenile offender population account for over 50 % of police contacts and court hearings (Braga et al. 2001; Wolfgang et al. 1972). These high-risk juveniles are often embedded in families with a complex range of risks and needs (Moffitt and Caspi 2001) that not only absorb a significant amount of law enforcement resources (see Farrington & Welsh 2003; Mulder et al. 2011), but also drain other regulatory and non-regulatory support agencies (Farrington et al. 2001; Wolfgang et al. 1972).

In 2009, the Brisbane Metropolitan North District of the Queensland Police Service (QPS) in Australia initiated the Family Engagement Strategy (FES), a partnership response aimed at reducing problems associated with high-risk juveniles and their families. QPS officers examined their annual statistics for police contacts associated with particular physical addresses in the Brisbane Metropolitan North Region and, like thousands of other police agencies throughout the world, they found that a small number of private family residences were associated with a disproportionately large number of police contacts. In the majority of these “hotspot” residences, the police contacts related to an adolescent member of the family household engaging in behaviors that warranted police attention, such as truancy, public nuisance, and curfew violations. While these initial contacts with police did not always attract criminal sanctions, they consumed a large proportion of police resources due to their frequent occurrence. Notably, many of the high-risk families also had records of past interventions with a range of other service agencies.

The police used the key ideas of third-party policing (TPP) to develop the FES partnership approach. At the core of the FES is an interagency working forum of agency representatives that have access to various legal levers and diverse responsibilities for reducing the deviant behavior of highly troublesome family members. In this way, the FES is modeled after existing multiagency intervention strategies which rely on a variety of partnerships, including partnerships between different law enforcement agencies (see, e.g., Bond and Gittell 2010), partnerships between clusters of social support agencies (see, e.g., Stern and Green 2005), and partnerships between law enforcement and other support agencies (see Penfold et al. 2004).

This research paper outlines the Queensland Police Service (QPS) Family Engagement Strategy (FES) as an example of third-party policing (TPP) applied to policing the problems associated with deeply troubled families. It describes the underpinning philosophies and principles of TPP and demonstrates how some of the key components of TPP were applied to the FES. It begins with a description of TPP and plural policing strategies in general and the specific challenges relating to partnership formation and agency buy-in. It then summarizes the key components of the FES and draws some conclusions around how the FES dynamics might inform future TPP approaches.

Fundamentals: Third-Party Policing

Buerger and Mazerolle (1998) first introduced the idea of TPP in the late 1990s. As a model of policing partnerships, it involves the strategic collaboration between local police forces and civil regulatory agencies to address and prevent criminal activities (Buerger and Mazerolle 1998; Mazerolle and Ransley 2005). In some jurisdictions, governments have actively issued a mandate for police to form collaborative partnerships with other regulatory and nonregulatory agencies to pursue problem-solving policing approaches (see, e.g., the United Kingdom; Fleming 2006). In others, including Australia, there is a greater reliance on “voluntary” partnerships between police services and other regulatory agencies (Fleming 2006). In both cases, the focus is on forming effective partnerships between agencies concerned with similar social issues and target groups, who share a mutual interest in preventing and addressing crime.

In the case of TPP, the partnerships operate on a spectrum from invited or encouraged partnerships at one end, to forced or coerced partnerships at the other end (Mazerolle and Ransley 2006). At the latter end of the spectrum, police use their coercive powers to “force” partnerships with non-offending third parties that are able to address particular crime problems, but who would not usually see this as their role. These approaches generally focus on crime control rather than prevention. At the front end of the spectrum, police invite third parties that share a mutual interest in addressing certain forms of crime or antisocial behavior to contribute to policing strategies, which are usually prevention focused (Mazerolle and Ransley 2005). While partnerships can be formed under very different circumstances, the objective remains the same from a police perspective; namely, to form partnerships with third parties that are able to regulate criminal or deviant behavior and share in the responsibility of addressing and preventing crime within the community (Braga et al. 2001; Buerger and Mazerolle 1998).

Past research on TPP reveals that the majority of partnerships initiated at the coercive end of the spectrum are formed to target street-level criminal activities, including the street-level drug market, street prostitution, shop lifting, and other forms of low-level property crimes (Buerger 2007; Mazerolle and Ransley 2005). Under the model of TPP put forward by Buerger and Mazerolle (1998), “partnerships” are formed with proximate targets (third parties) to minimize opportunities for crime perpetrated by ultimate targets (individual offenders). Proximate targets are those non-offending parties who police choose to approach because of their access to regulatory powers, or so-called legal levers, that can be used to address the situational circumstances of crime. Proximate targets may include, for example, property owners renting properties to known drug dealers, or shop owners serving known drug dealers who tend to hang out outside the shop and use the street level as their market platform (Mazerolle and Ransley 2005). The regulatory levers available to the proximate targets are applied to reduce the occurrence of crime in a location-specific manner. While these levers are not accessible to the police, the formation of coerced partnerships with a relevant third party enables the police to indirectly access them. At this end of the spectrum of TPP, non-offending third parties are “coerced” into the partnership through the application of another level of legal levers in the form of applicable civil laws that can be used against the third party should the third party refuse to collaborate with the police. An example of applicable civil law codes that can be used as “legal levers” to “coerce” partnerships is legislation and regulations around unsafe or substandard rental properties. In an attempt to control criminal activities (e.g., drug dealing) that take place in substandard rental properties, the police identify agencies or individuals with access to civil law codes that can be applied to indirectly regulate and control these criminal activities. The police approach the relevant party (in this case the property owner or housing company) and ask them to perform their third-party role by applying tenancy laws that they can access – to terminate the tenancy agreement of the ultimate target. Should the third party be reluctant to carry out the eviction (e.g., fearing a loss of rental income), the police can utilize the legal lever which defines their responsibility as a homeowner in relation to unsafe or substandard housing conditions. The legal lever available to police can be escalated from an initial written request outlining the possible consequences in case of noncompliance on behalf of the third party – at the lower end of the “coercive pyramid” (Ayres and Braithwaite 1992), to a formal report to the Housing Commission, which is likely to result in the property being boarded up. This approach “encourages” the selected third party to take responsibility for their property and partner with the police in crime control and community safety (Green 1996).

In addition to the street-level TPP approaches, which predominantly focus on crime and place in a context of crime control, more recent forms of TPP have incorporated aspects of crime control and crime prevention through partnerships that are able to generate individual behavior change rather than opportunities that converge in space and time (Braga et al. 2001; Corsaro et al. 2009). These forms of TPP target problems such as youth deviance, child safety, and domestic and family violence. These forms of crime and antisocial behavior often attract the attention of multiple regulatory agencies which focus on individual behavior change and regulation. Notably, TPP approaches that focus on problem families and individuals differ from the more place-specific TPP approaches in the type of agency approached for the third-party partnership as well as the nature and duration of the intervention. While place-specific approaches of TPP are often formed with parties who manage certain locations but share no primary concern in individual crime control or crime prevention, person-specific approaches utilize partnerships with agencies that share a similar agenda in reducing and preventing crime and other potentially harmful behaviors (see, e.g., Braga et al. 2001; Mazerolle and Ransley 2005). While these agencies still require encouragement to take on certain policing roles in addition to their general agenda, their engagement as a third party predominantly takes place within their organizational aims and objectives. This will be illustrated through the example of the FES, which is built on police partnerships with agencies concerned with the well-being of high-risk families.

In practice, partnerships that aim to address a range of social and criminal issues are often marked by tensions between agencies that operate within different practical and philosophical frameworks. Having a legislative framework that lends itself to the formation of partnerships around issues of mutual concern is therefore only the first step in forming effective third-party partnerships that follow the principles of crime prevention. Most parties involved experience significant challenges throughout the partnership formation process as well as the intervention development and implementation phases. Challenges mainly arise from the diverse backgrounds and philosophical underpinnings of the different agencies involved. While parties may share a mutual interest in reducing crime and antisocial behavior, for example, police priorities focus on the end result (i.e., reducing police resources invested in addressing the issue), the primary focus of the third party often centers on changing the underlying causes of the issue (e.g., school failure, family conflict) (Bond and Gittell 2010; Fleming 2006; Sloper 2004).

In addition to the potential mismatch in underlying philosophies that drive different partnership approaches, police-led partnerships are prone to experiencing struggles around sharing the power and entitlement associated with crime reduction and related interventions. As described above, certain civil laws offer an opportunity for police to “coerce” rather than “invite” or “encourage” partnerships. This can lead to hostile and reluctant cooperation from the third party, and as a result, so-called partnerships can be fragmented due to actual and perceived power imbalances and a lack of mutual trust and respect between agencies and organizations (Fleming 2006; Loader 2000). While fragmentation and power imbalances can be managed through the approach taken by the police during the partnership initiation phase, the success of these (usually short-term) interventions does not depend on the level of buy-in from the third party since cooperation can be “coerced” by the police.

In contrast, invited or encouraged partnerships require a sufficient level of buy-in on behalf of the third party to be effective. The level of buy-in is strongly influenced by the level of mutual trust and respect generated during the partnership initiation phase. While this initiation phase is more time consuming than establishing short-term “coerced” partnerships, it is necessary to build a suitable foundation for interventions that aim to achieve long-term change and behavior improvement rather than short-term changes to spatial opportunities (Bond and Gittell 2010; Braga et al. 2001; Fleming 2006).

Both forms of TPP partnerships share a common overarching goal, namely, the sharing of police responsibilities around crime control and crime prevention with third parties that are in a position to enforce citizen compliance through regulatory statutes not available to the police (Buerger 2007; Green 1996; Mazerolle and Ransley 2005, 2006). The ultimate goal is to minimize the use of police resources for matters that can be controlled or addressed by other regulatory agencies (Mazerolle and Ransley 2005, 2006). In the case of the FES, this goal is expected to be achieved through invited partnerships with agencies that are able to regulate individual behavior of high-risk family members through the application of regulatory levers.

Partnership Policing: A Matter Of Shared Roles And Responsibilities

Partnership policing builds on the idea of shared responsibilities for controlling and preventing crime (Loader 2000; Stenning 2009) such that crime problems are no longer the sole responsibility of those empowered by the State to regulate public behavior through the use of force and punitive reactions (Loader 2000). The increasing use of pluralized approaches to policing over the past two decades has created an extended “policing family” in modern societies. Today, policing responsibilities are shared between a number of different agencies and organizations to address a broad range of social issues and concerns (Fleming 2006; Loader 2000). Some jurisdictions, including Australia, rely on voluntarily initiated partnerships (Fleming 2006), while others, such as the United Kingdom, have clear mandates around partnerships designed to provide crime prevention and crime control strategies (Florence et al. 2011). Whether mandated or optional, most contemporary Western societies now take a pluralized approach to policing problem people (Bond and Gittell 2010; Braga et al. 2001; Corsaro et al. 2009), problem places (Weisburd and Green 1995), or criminogenic situations (Mazerolle et al. 2000).

Pluralized policing can take a number of different forms, including handing over traditional public policing roles to private security companies (see Bradley and Sedgwick 2009; Sarre and Prenzler 2000), networked policing models that bring together police and community partners (Crawford 2006; Shearing and Stenning 1983), and third-party policing approaches that involve police co-opting other entities to share the crime control load (Ayling and Grabosky 2006; Mazerolle et al. 2000). Examples of these pluralized approaches include private security companies supporting federal police terrorism control and peacekeeping missions (Loader 2000), private security companies taking on the responsibility of crime and crowd control at public events (Sarre and Prenzler 2000), private security guards patrolling public places or private properties (Bradley and Sedgwick 2009; Stenning 2009), and police partnering with community-based neighborhood watch groups to share responsibilities of crime control with individual community groups (Ayling and Grabosky 2006; Bradley and Sedgwick 2009; Kempa and Johnston 2005).

The third-party partnership approach also follows the principle of police working with other agencies to establish a shared and pluralized approach to reducing crime and the associated police workload (Ayling and Grabosky 2006; Mazerolle and Ransley 2005, 2006). The TPP partnership approach, however, differs from other forms of pluralized policing in the rationale that drives this partnership formation. Partnerships forged through TPP are explicitly sought based on the legal lever accessible to the partner but otherwise unavailable to the police. Rather than simply sharing policing responsibilities by handing certain roles over to another entity or agency, TPP seeks access to the legal levers that are thought to facilitate police efforts to control and prevent crime (Buerger 2007; Mazerolle and Ransley 2005). Police identify suitable third parties with access to regulatory levers unavailable to the police (e.g., levers to regulate substandard housing arrangements or matters around family violence and child abuse). This approach enables police to harness help while remaining involved as the lead organization in the intervention efforts (see, e.g., Braga et al. 2001; Corsaro et al. 2009).

While third-party policing partnerships hold value for the police (see Mazerolle and Ransley 2006), they do not come without their challenges. As discussed above, third-party partnerships are formed on a spectrum from invited to coerced partnerships, the latter leading to a range of challenges around establishing a sufficient level of agency buy-in and collaboration (Buerger and Mazerolle 1998; Mazerolle and Ransley 2005).

Most police matters relating to high-risk juveniles and their families also constitute grounds for intervention by other agencies. Mandatory notification between the police and other regulatory agencies when dealing with matters, including truancy, family violence, concerns around supervision and suspected neglect, require cross agency communication and ideally collaboration (Ayling and Grabosky 2006). Formalized partnerships to jointly address these issues share the policing workload and reduce the use of resources at either agency end, therefore seem an all too obvious solution.

The Queensland Police Service Family Engagement Strategy (FES)

The FES is a crime control initiative that focuses on the cooperative aspects of TPP partnerships. The FES comprises the following three key components:

  1. Focuses on long-term behavior regulation
  2. Addresses a complex variety of presenting issues within high-risk families
  3. Creates a multiagency working forum with access to a range of legal levers

The following sections provide an overview of the FES target population, the range and role of invited third-party partner agencies, and the processes associated with forming these partnerships.

Target Population

Based on the information derived from internal police data reviewed during the planning phase of the FES, families with adolescent children who fall into the “top 100 list” of police contacts linked to their residential address in the Metropolitan North region during the previous 12 months “self-select” as the target population for the FES. The presenting issues identified from official police records for contacts with one or more of the relevant family members in each high-risk family/household range from noncriminal risk-taking behavior, including truancy, substance misuse, and curfew violations, to mental health issues, child abuse, domestic violence, and a range of officially recorded criminal activities.

The QPS FES Team

The FES is led by the QPS team based in the Metropolitan North Region. The team consists of the leading Inspector for the Metropolitan North Region, an unsworn project manager (with a degree in human services), and three front line sworn police officers from three different districts within the Metropolitan North Region. The leading Inspector and project manager were actively involved in the partnership formation and project planning phase and coordinate all working forums. The project manager is further involved in all initial client engagement. All three frontline officers are involved in the identification of suitable families for the FES in their relevant districts and accompany the project manager during the initial client engagement.

Voluntary Third-Party Partnership Formation

With the absence of mandated policing partnerships in Australia (Fleming 2006) and the lack of applicable legal frameworks to “coerce” partnership interventions around long-term behavior regulations as opposed to short-term spatial interventions (Mazerolle and Ransley 2005), the FES requires the voluntary buy-in from potential third parties to ensure their cooperation in taking on some of the traditional policing responsibilities as they relate to regulating antisocial behavior displayed by high-risk families.

In late 2009, the QPS invited a range of regulatory agencies to become involved in a third-party partnership approach to reduce the disproportionately high number of police contacts accumulated by a relatively small number of high-risk families. The overarching goal was to form partnerships designed to address long-term behavior regulation at an individual level. Given the level of required buy-in and long-term commitment to a variety of interventions offered as part of the FES, the partnership formation phase required a lengthy negotiation phase marked by various stages of protocol negotiations and renegotiations between QPS and the approached third parties. Overall, the partnership development and project planning phase of the FES lasted for 18 months from the initial invitations extended by QPS in late 2009. This lengthy process was required to ensure the expectations of the lead agency (i.e., QPS) were aligned with the organizational guidelines and legislative frameworks of each agency when acting as a third party in a multiagency TPP approach.

The key challenges that arose throughout the partnership formation process were associated with initial differences in perceived and promoted aims and objectives between QPS as the lead agency and some of the third parties. Both police officials and third-party representatives had to develop an understanding for each other’s underlying goals, values, and organizational philosophies to negotiate terms of references acceptable for all parties involved. Ongoing protocol negotiations between all parties involved ensured the development of a trusting and respectful partnership between agencies that often had to overcome a history of hostile working relations marked by power struggles and poor communication (see Meyer and White 2011). The challenges observed throughout the FES partnership formation phase are not uncommon. Several studies examining the processes and outcomes of partnerships between the police and other regulatory agencies suggest that the development of partnerships marked by mutual trust and respect can be a lengthy and sometimes impossible process where historically poor working relations are involved (Bond and Gittell 2010; Fleming 2006; Rosenbaum 2002).

Forum Driven

A key component of the FES was the forum driven multiagency nature of this approach. Instead of relying on a dyad relationship with a single third party, the FES used a multiagency forum approach that involved multiple third parties within the same TPP approach. This approach was necessary to address the complexity of presenting issues and behaviors to be regulated under the FES. Partnership negotiations and protocol renegotiations had to take place between the police and a broad range of regulatory agencies to ensure access to a diverse range of regulatory levers applicable to the high-risk families targeted by the FES. This component further contributed to the lengthy partnership development phase.

The initial call for interest in a TPP approach to high-risk families went out to a broad range of regulatory agencies operating at a state level in Queensland (Qld), Australia. Following an opt-in approach, these agencies were asked to indicate their initial interest and later confirm their commitment to the FES by agreeing to the project’s terms of reference and data sharing agreement. Regulatory agencies (or their respective Departments) approached to form the TPP partnership included the following:

  • Qld Department of Education
  • Qld Department of Health, represented by the following subbranches:

– Primary and Community Health Services

– Alcohol and Drug Service

– Mental Health Service

– Children and Youths Mental Health Service

  • Qld Department of Communities, represented by the following subbranches:

– Child Safety Programs and Partnerships

– Child Protection Development

– Housing and Homelessness Services

– Youth and Family Support Services

  • Qld Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation
  • Qld Department of Corrective Services (Probation and Parole)

The FES working forum was formed through preliminary electronic and in-person conversations between QPS and the approached agencies. While all 11 regulatory agencies and departments approached remained involved beyond the initial working forum planning phase, only 8 opted into a formal TPP partnership through signing the data sharing agreement. Three of the four branches under the Department of Communities stream (namely, Child Safety, Child Protection, and Housing and Homelessness Services) chose to attend only some of the working forums throughout the project planning phase and maintained an informal involvement in the FES. Their involvement comprised the provision of informal feedback at the working forums they were able to attend. Over an 18 months planning phase, working forums were held every 2 months to negotiate processes and protocols between QPS as the leading agency, each regulatory agency formally involved as a potential third party, and the University of Queensland as the evaluator of the FES. Initial and ongoing involvement of the evaluation team was crucial to ensure a sound methodology for the initial process and a long-term impact evaluation.

Multiple working forums were required throughout the project planning phase to give representatives of all partner agencies the opportunity to be actively involved in the planning and development of the FES prior to its implementation. The lack of formal engagement by some of the regulatory agencies initially approached for a formal partnership is not unusual for TPP approaches built on invited partnerships, that is, where there is no legal lever available to the police to “coerce” collaboration. While approaches like the ones described on street-level interventions to housing and drug sales (Mazerolle and Ransley 2005, 2006) offer an opportunity for police to coerce collaboration of proximate targets through threats of adverse outcomes in case of non-compliance, invited partnerships require the full buy-in of invited third parties. Full buy-in can best be achieved in partnerships between agencies that share a certain level of mutual trust and respect and pursue similar goals in crime prevention (Rosenbaum 2002; Sloper 2004). Once partnerships had been established, the monthly working forum discussions were used to drive the development and later implementation of the FES. This collaborative forum approach gave involved third parties an opportunity to shape the FES through equal involvement and decision-making powers. Past research has identified equal input and decision-making powers as one of the key factors contributing to the effectiveness of police partnership projects (Bond and Gittell 2010; Huey 2008; Stern and Green 2005).

Regulatory Agencies And Their Involvement

 Due to the complex nature of risks and needs prevalent in high-risk families, the FES regulatory agencies have to contribute a broad range of legal levers as part of their involvement. The following three scenarios illustrate some of the key presenting issues, identify suitable third parties, and describe their regulatory involvement and the role of proximate and ultimate targets as they relate to the FES.

  1. Presenting issue: truancy. A young person and his/her parent(s) may have agreed to regular school attendance under a FES Action Plan. In the case of unexplained absence coming to the attention of the Department of Education, the department may choose to issue an initial warning to the young person and his/her parent(s) in their role as the responsible supervisors. This warning can later be escalated into a fine (Ayres and Braithwaite 1992; Mazerolle and Ransley 2005) should the young person and his/her parent(s) engage in further noncompliance with the Action Plan.
  2. Presenting issue: absconding. A family may have child safety concerns issued against an adult caretaker for exposing the young person to domestic violence where this exposure may lead to the young person running away from home and engaging in antisocial behavior while unsupervised. In cases where further incidents of domestic violence come to the attention of the Department of Child Safety, the department may choose to issue an initial warning, subject the parent to mandatory parenting training, or escalate the lever to the removal of the young person from the violent family household.
  3. Presenting issue: public rental property damage. A young person may engage in frequent and severe forms of aggression against other family members, leading to property damage and police attention. In cases where further incidents of escalating violence and property damage come to the attention of the Department of Housing, the department may choose to apply its legal lever by issuing an initial warning which can later be escalated to an eviction notice should the property damage continue.

In all three examples, the initial third-party partnership between the police and a selected regulatory agency was extended to a “secondary third party,” namely, the adult caretaker of the young person as a proximate target of the overall intervention. While QPS formed the initial partnership with a regulatory third party to share their workload as it relates to high-risk families, the selected third party was then in a position to apply the traditional concepts of TPP and “coerce” parents as proximate targets into a partnership that seeks to regulate the behavior of the ultimate target, namely, the young person whose behavior attracts a disproportionately high number of police contacts.

The Role Of Additional Non-Regulatory Partners

In addition to the regulatory third parties invited to participate in the FES, the established FES working forum felt it was important to go beyond the traditional TPP partnerships with regulatory agencies and invite further community-based agencies relevant to addressing the needs of high-risk families. Past research has documented the effectiveness of such “mixed” partnership approaches. The “Boston Pulling Levers” project (Braga et al. 2001) followed a problem-solving TPP approach that invited additional nonregulatory agencies to combine the key deterrence component with a rehabilitative intervention component that was able to address the underlying risks and needs of the target population. The impact evaluation of this mixed partnership approach found strong support for its effectiveness, leading to the replication of its framework in other sites in the United States (see, e.g., Corsaro et al. 2009). In relation to the FES, the rehabilitative component is to be understood in a criminal justice context. This component therefore includes agencies that support individuals in developing pro-social skill sets and protective factors, including but not limited to rehabilitation in a medical sense (e.g., from substance misuse). The non-regulatory agencies invited to provide a rehabilitative component to supplement the regulatory work of the controlling partner agencies in the FES include the following NGOs:

  • Salvation Army Youth Outreach Services
  • Drug Awareness, Rehabilitation and Management
  • Domestic Violence and Family Counselling Program (SANDBAG)
  • Employment Service Inc (EPIC)
  • Northwest Aboriginal and Islander Community Association (NWAICA)

All five invited, non-regulatory partner agencies signed the initial data sharing agreement. Except for the culturally specific service, NWAICA, all other non-regulatory partner agencies are represented at most working forums. While their intervention contribution is designed to be supplementary to the regulatory components of the FES, all non-regulatory agencies were also given the opportunity of active involvement and input during the planning phase of the FES.

Data Sharing

A crucial component of the forum-driven multiagency TPP approach of the FES is the data sharing agreement set up by QPS, which had to be signed by each partner agency at the beginning of their involvement. This agreement enables QPS as the lead agency to identify relevant legal levers matching the presenting problems identified for each target youth and his/her high-risk family through access to third-party records. The data sharing agreement with non-regulatory agencies is of similar importance because it provides a broader background on participants’ proven or suspected civil law violations, behaviors associated with an increased risk in civil and criminal law violations along with past interventions participants had been exposed to. While non-regulatory agencies are not in a position to apply a legal lever to control subsequent violations (e.g., in form of domestic violence or substance misuse), their record sharing provides QPS with more detailed information on each family’s key presenting issues along with past (unsuccessful) interventions. Along with the information received from all regulatory partner agencies, this information facilitates the selection of the most appropriate third party in a position to regulate these issues.

While both the police and their partner agencies had to overcome some perceived barriers and challenges around understanding the value and importance of data sharing for TPP and multiagency approaches to high-risk populations, all parties involved eventually negotiated a process they felt met their ethical requirements without compromising their clients’ right to privacy. The benefits of such data sharing approaches have been evidenced in past research results, which suggest that the needs of vulnerable and high-risk populations can be met more effectively through transparent communication between relevant support agencies. It is, however, not uncommon for this to be a lengthy negotiation process (Fleming 2006; Florence et al. 2011).


This research paper describes the emergence of different forms of police partnerships with a specific focus on TPP. It introduces a TPP program known as the FES and draws on the relevant literature to demonstrate the application of key components of TPP to the FES. It illustrates the contributions TPP is able to make in the area of crime control that requires individual behavior change rather than short-term spatial interventions. The FES is a novel approach to TPP, which further advances the original components of TPP through multilayered partnerships that move beyond the original dyad nature of TPP partnerships. Through inviting partnerships with a number of agencies, the FES constitutes a crime control strategy that is able to address a complex range of social and criminal issues. It is the first TPP approach to target the small proportion of high-risk juveniles and families that are responsible for the majority of police and other agency contact. Through the regulatory partnership approach, with a supplementary rehabilitative component, the FES offers an opportunity to instantly regulate high-risk behavior while at the same time addressing the underlying issues which influence long-term behavior change. Such an approach holds great value in addressing the needs of its target population while at the same time reducing the resources invested by each individual partner agency.


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