Tackling the scourge of violent youth crime and improving community safety would be the focus of a $50 million ‘Police in Schools’ program to be introduced by an elected Liberal Nationals government.
Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath said the program would complement the Liberal Nationals tough bail, sentencing and parole changes with a comprehensive plan to engage with young people in the community, particularly those who are at risk.
“To break the cycle of youth crime we must engage our children at a young age, speaking to them about community safety and to restore respect for police and the courts,” Ms Bath said.
“By putting police in direct contact with Victorian youths, we can build a positive relationship between our youths and law enforcement officers that will stay with our young people for life.”
At a cost of $50 million over four years, the ‘Police in Schools’ program is a major proactive child and youth engagement initiative to assist police to better engage with young Victorians who are still at school, and to restore respect for police and the community.
An additional 100 new police will be funded to work as School Resource Officers to complement the existing Victoria Police Youth Resource Officers.
The officers will become trusted members of the school community and as such will provide an opportunity for members of that community to seek advice about a range of policing issues, including the scourge of family violence.
“As a former teacher, I have seen the positive influence early connection with police officers in the school environment can have on the lives of young people,” Ms Bath continued.
“Whether it’s sharing their insights into the dangers of drug use, the consequences of driving impaired, or discussions around how to prevent family violence – there are so many benefits that flow from a school program with direct police engagement.”
Shadow Minister for Police Edward O’Donohue said the program was part of a suite of policies to combat violent crime in Victoria.
“Tougher sentencing, bail and parole are all important but we are also focused on proactive policies to prevent kids from going down a path of crime,” Mr O’Donohue said.
“This program will help school children have a stronger understanding and respect for police and help break the cycle of youth crime.”
Victoria is the only state in Australia that does not currently have a ‘Police in Schools’ program.