Responding to Don Dale: Coming to terms with our irresponsibility as legal practitioners for young people’s experience in detention centres

Mary Spiers Williams1

1ANU College of Law

Legal practitioners have known for some time what young people experience in detention centres. The screening nationally of images of those places and the acts that have taken place was not a revelation to us. But it reverberated in the youth justice arena, shocked us even in our fatalism and again we were confronted by a sense of futility that arises from a belief that we have no power to affect the conditions of custody or prevent children from being detained there. Despite our awareness of the dysfunction of the penal detention centre (from the considerable body of social science research, the evidence of our own perceptions of these places and the instructions of our clients), this information appears to play little part in the formal determination of youth sentencing. The reasons for this are often attributed to the limited power of the judicial arm of government relative to that of ‘Parliamentary sovereignty’.

In this paper, I interrogate this ‘irresponsibility’ and its paradoxical counterpart, the sense of futility. I then examine the cultural constraints that operate on legal practitioners, and in doing so de-fatalise them. Second, I tackle the remaining barrier to taking ‘responsibility’ as legal practitioners and demonstrate how being  responsible  is possible within the existing limits of the legal framework (including the deferral to Parliamentary sovereignty and a proper application of principles of sentencing law): in jurisdictions that have a penal detention centre like Don Dale, I demonstrate how the conditions of detention should always be taken into account as a matter of law, and argue that a court ought only in the most exceptional cases order detention.

In this presentation, I will discuss the first aspect of the full paper, that is, how legal practitioners persist in a condition of ‘irresponsibility’ regarding their role in the detention of children.


Mary Spiers Williams has diverse experience in the practice and policy of criminal law in NSW and the NT, including being Warlpiri people’s advocate. She continues to work within the legal field as a lecturer at the Australian National University, teaching in core courses of criminal law and evidence law and her  sociolegal courses. She is currently completing doctoral research that explores how the legal field understands that concept of ‘culture’. The thesis is developed using Indigenous and ‘translocal’ methodology and theoretical perspectives, using data derived from field sites in central Australia. The field sites include summary sentencing courts, and as a preliminary step to addressing the larger thesis question, the thesis reexamines sentencing law, identifying some gaps and addresses inconsistencies in sentencing law epistemology.

Predictors for intimate partner violence: Risk or vulnerability?

Dr Romy Winter  

1Teaching Fellow, Police Studies.  Research Fellow, Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies, School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania

The increase in focus on violence amongst current or former partners reveals a chronic problem characterised by a complex set of social and individual determinants.  This presentation examines the current thinking about risk factors for perpetrator escalation of intimate partner violence as well as looking at victim vulnerabilities which exacerbate the risk of lethal assault. As no individual factor can explain more than small proportions of risk or vulnerability, we need to find frameworks that embrace complexity.  This presentation identifies factors which present the likely catalysts for intimate partner homicide and discuss how a multilateral model might be useful for screening and risk assessment.



Dr Rosmarie (Romy) Winter is an experienced researcher with the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies and teaches victimology in the Police Studies program at the University of Tasmania.  Her research interests include criminal justice responses to intimate partner violence, “social problems” policy analysis/evaluation and the sociology of gender in relation to the workforce.  Romy has a decade of experience in evaluating programs targeting vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations including parenting programs for at-risk families; young people on bail; Aboriginal men and boys in the criminal justice system and women with marginal attachment to the workforce.

Exploring determinants of citizen satisfaction levels with the police: The role of strain

Frank V. Ferdik1

1Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of West Florida,


Citizen satisfaction with law enforcement can greatly influence crime levels and even police officer job effectiveness. Copious research to date has explored predictors of citizen satisfaction with the police, and while this research is informative, currently no study has examined the influence of individual strain levels in predicting this outcome. Questionnaire data collected from a convenience sample of university students (N = 623) were used to examine whether strain statistically significantly predicted citizen satisfaction with the police. After controlling for important variables such as race and procedural justice, strain negatively correlated with police satisfaction. Policy implications are discussed.


To be advised

Blind spot: 9/11 in criminology

Wilem de Lint

Flinders University of South Australia

This paper reports on a critical analysis of the authorities relied upon in the criminological perception of “9/11”. Involving a deliberate attack on WTC 1, 2 and 7 and the Pentagon, 9/11 is important as a case study in forensics, terrorism studies, criminalistics, crime scene investigation, homicide studies, etc., and has had a momentous impact on policing, security and intelligence studies, criminal law, surveillance and privacy studies and a host of other fields in criminology (not to mention public policy in domestic and foreign affairs). However, evaluation of the criminological scholarship (journal articles) indicates an uncritical (direct or indirect) reliance on the authority of, in particular, the U.S. government account (represented in reports of The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States and supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)). Given the momentous impact of the official version of the crime and significant shortcomings in these accounts, does this reliance and lack of skepticism in criminological scholarship represent a blind spot? If so, what might this suggest of the normative dimensions of the discipline?


Willem de Lint is a professor in the Flinders Law School and has written on terrorism, policing and security and surveillance.

Proactive versus reactive victims’ rights legislation: Findings from victim interviews

Rhiannon Davies

University of Tasmania Faculty of

In South Australia and Tasmania, under their victims’ rights legislation and victims’ rights charter respectively, information about the conduct of a trial, including the progress of investigation, the laying of charges, and the acceptance of a guilty plea, is only provided to victims upon the victim’s request. In contrast, under the proactive victims’ rights legislation that operates in the ACT and Victoria, the obligation to provide victims with information about the progress of a matter lies with the DPP.

This paper discusses key findings from an empirical study of victim impact statement and sentencing procedures from the perspective of victims of sexual offending across the ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. Victim interviews reveal that the operation of the reactive victims’ rights legislation and victims’ rights charter in South Australia and Tasmania can cause significant issues arising from the lack of information actively provided to victims throughout the trial process.


Rhiannon is a lawyer and former social worker with an interest in socio-legal research. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania’s School of Law. Her thesis explores judicial acknowledgement of victims and their impact statements at sentencing in sex offence cases.

Anatomy of the myth of Japan, the safest country in the world; how has Japan maintained low crime rate?

Koichi Hamai

School of Law, Ryukoku University

If we take an international view of things, Japan enjoyed its post-war reputation as one of the most crime-free countries. The number of homicides reported in Japan has constantly decreased since 1955, and the five years from 2009 to 2013 constituted a period of reduction to an all-time low of 939 in 2013, while the clearance rate in 2013 remained stable and very high, at 100%. According to the Global Study on Homicide 2013 (UN Office on Drugs and Crime), the Japanese homicide rate in 2011 was around 0.3 per 100,000 population – which was lower than in nearly any other advanced democracy. In addition, it is also important to bear in mind that the one year prevalence rate (0.6) of ‘assaults & threats’ in Japan is lowest among all of the countries participating in ICVS 2003-2004.

On the contrary, the Japanese public has become more fearful about their public safety and lost their faith in the criminal justice system’s effectiveness since the mid-1990s because of the media coverage of crimes. Because of the moral panic, Japan has begun not only to take a more punitive sentencing approach, but has also widened and thinned its criminal justice net since 1995, when the Tokyo sarin gas attack happened.

Braithwaite (1989) once claimed that Japan’s success in maintaining a low crime rate could be explained by the commitment of the Japanese criminal justice system, and Japanese society in general, to notions of reintegration and reparation. It seems to be true if we pay attention to the statistics on the relationship between the amount of reparation and punishment. The more you compensate, the more you have chance to get a suspended sentence.

But, had the Japanese society been really still re-integrative and the criminal justice lenient? In the last two decades, since the punitive turn of the criminal justice policy, many elderly have sent to prisons for repeated but very minor shopliftings. The more they re-offended, the longer they have to serve in prison regardless of the damages caused by their offenses.
Indeed, despite the absolute drop in overall crime in Japan, the punitive policy (punishment) is regressive, which means the burden is relatively higher for disadvantaged people such as low-income earners, socially isolated people as well as mentally handicapped people. Those who have been caught by the criminal justice net, are essentially the disadvantaged (In 2012, 21% of the inmates were found to have an IQ below 70.), especially elderly petty offenders. In 2013 more than 17% of new inmates are now above 60 years of age and have no pension to fall back on. In practice, prisons in Japan are being used to make up for the lack of social welfare provision and have become the ‘last safety net’. In this August, the government announced to assign care workers in prisons.

While the number of crimes has been decreasing and Japan almost achieved the safest society in human history, the prisons has detained full of elderly and handicapped people for minor offenses. According to the recent study by the Ministry of Justice, they found that 14% of inmates over 60 are suffering from dementia such as Alzheimer. Then, in the last two decades, more than a thousand of them have died in prisons.

In 2011, March 11, huge earthquake attacked the northern part of Japan, tens of thousands of people died due to the tsunami, and the reactor of the Fukushima nuclear power plant was melted down. However, there was almost no riot or pillage in the area. No police officer abandoned their duty. What kind of mechanism in the society can this be possible?
Based on the above, I would like to explore the social mechanism of the low crime rate in Japan.

Global surveillance and transnational policing

M. Mann*, I. Warren

1 School of Justice and Crime and Justice Research Centre, QUT
2 School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University

*corresponding author:

Cyberspace, by nature, bridges conventional geographic divides. This has enormous implications for transnational and extraterritorial policing activity, especially by the United States. As principles of territorial sovereignty that delimit criminal justice authority within the nation state are shifting, we argue in this paper that global digital communications are reorienting both the content and procedural protections associated with the criminal law. Increasingly data and information is considered ‘trans-’ or ‘un-territorial,’ which provides new opportunities for extraterritorial surveillance, the collection, storage and use of digital communications for evidentiary purposes and transnational policing more generally. We argue that because most English-speaking Internet infrastructure has been developed, is located in or transmitted via hubs owned by US corporations, there are numerous procedural factors that affect transnational criminal investigations conducted on behalf of, or to reflect particular US conceptions of justice, due process and the rule of law. This paper argues the direct impacts of these developments place new legal burdens on  the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand under the Five-Eyes intelligence partnership, as well as other countries where servers might be located that contain data associated with US criminal investigations. This paper uses the example of the Silk Road investigations against Ross William Ulbricht (aka ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’) to demonstrate how the extraterritorial reach of US investigative authority occurs within a legal vacuum that prioritizes transnational police cooperation over due process considerations. We conclude by arguing high-end controversies over NSA surveillance practices significantly dilute our understanding of the discrete procedural issues that affect lower-order forms of transnational police cooperation.


Monique Mann is a Lecturer at the School of Justice, Faculty of Law, QUT. Previously she worked as a Research Analyst at the Australian Institute of Criminology. Monique is interested in critical socio-legal research on the intersecting topics of organised crime, cybercrime, police technology, intelligence and surveillance.

Citation analysis of Australian and New Zealand Criminology

T. R. McGee1*, E. G. Cohn2, Whitten, T.1, Eriksson, L.1, Farrington, D. P.3

1 Griffith University
2 Florida International University
3 University of Cambridge

*corresponding author:

There have been a number of previous investigations of the developmental of criminology in Australia and New Zealand including Manning, Stenning, & Mazerolle’s (2014) documentation of the history of the journal including its establishment and chronological list of editors. They examined 45 year trends in the authors’ gender, number of authors per paper, authors’ geographic locations, research methods used, topic of the paper, and policy focus. An earlier paper by Pratt and Priestly (1999) first focused on the first 30 years of the journal and reported information on the geographic location of the author, author gender, subject area of the article, and criminological paradigms guiding the work presented in the papers. The current research builds on this work by offering a citation analysis of the last 25 years of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology (ANZJC). There are a number of points of investigation for the current project which include: examining Australian and New Zealander authors in leading international journals (both who is published and who is cited), assessing the frequency of citations of ANZJC in the journals; identify who are the most cited authors in the ANZJC; and to find out which are the most cited works of the most cited authors.


Tara Renae McGee is a senior lecturer at Griffith University.

Researching policing in a digital and networked age

David S. Wall

Cybercrime Research Unit, Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, School of Law, University of Leeds, UK.

This paper will explore the practical and methodological issues arising from interdisciplinary empirical research into the demands made of policing agencies in the digital and networked age. It will draw upon the findings of two ongoing RCUK funded collaborative research projects into the policing of cybercrimes. While collaborative and interdisciplinary research are ‘flavours of the moment’, they are also ideas that are easily articulated, but extremely difficult to implement and this paper will explore the reasons why this is the case. The paper will briefly look at the progress made so far in the research field before outlining some of the key issues arising. It will then go on to outline the practical issues that relate to collaborative research and it will discuss the methodological issues raised by interdisciplinary research. It will then consider some of the legacy problems that need to be addressed, such as the ‘reassurance gap in policing cybercrime’ between the inflated, even exaggerated, demands for (cyber)security and the inability of police and government to deliver at that desired level. It will also look at how the reassurance gap can be closed via collaborative work and co-production. The latter part of the paper will draw upon early research findings using national and local police operational data to draw some conclusions and offer some take away points.


David S. Wall, PhD is Professor of Criminology in the Centre for Criminal Justice studies, School of Law, University of Leeds, UK where he researches (and teaches) cybercrime, organised crime, policing and intellectual property crime. He has published a wide range of articles and books on these subjects. He also has a sustained track record of interdisciplinary funded research in these areas from the EU FP6, FP7, H2020, ESRC, EPSRC, AHRC & other funders, such as the Home Office and DSTL. David has been a member of various Governmental working groups, such as the Ministerial Working Group on Horizon Planning 2020-25, the Home Office Cybercrime Working Group (2014-2016) looking at issues of policy, costs and harms of crime and technology to society, and the HMIC Digital Crime and Policing working group in 2015. He is an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). He re-joined Leeds University in August 2015 from Durham where he was Professor of Criminology (2010-2015) and Head of the School of Applied Social Sciences (2011-2014). Prior to moving to Durham he was Head of the School of Law (2005-2007) and Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice (2000-2005) at the University of Leeds.

Insights into the evaluation of the investigative contribution of forensic science

Sonja Bitzer* 1,2 and Olivier Delémont 1

1 School of Criminal Justice, University of Lausanne, Batochime, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
2 National Institute for Criminalistics and Criminology, Brussels, Belgium

*corresponding author:

The effectiveness of forensic science has been challenged by several studies, indicating that it is either scarcely used and thus not relevant or when it is used, its effects on case processing are minor. The majority of the studies focused on an understanding of forensic science as the application of scientific techniques to the matters of court. Consequently, the contribution of forensic science was determined for judicial steps of the criminal justice process, such as suspect arrest, charging or conviction. The proposed remedies for its infrequent use or alleged ineffectiveness focused mainly on technical developments or managerial guidelines.

The objective of our study is to evaluate the use of forensic science in the investigation, as well as the decision leading up to it. Utility of the clue, defined as the added value of information gained by the analysis of the trace, is proposed as a more adequate indicator for the effective and efficient use of forensic science. Similarly is the anticipation of the utility of the clue an appropriate decision factor when choosing which traces to use. Through quantitative and qualitative research methods, robbery cases were studied. Results will be presented, showcasing the contribution of the utility of the clue in the decision-making process when assessing the actual contribution of traces to the investigation, considering the overall information available in the case.


Sonja Bitzer recently finished her PhD thesis in Forensic Science at the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland. Her main interests focus on the understanding of forensic science in different countries and the evaluation of the effectiveness of forensic science in the Criminal Justice Process and the general security context. In September, she started a Post-doc at the National Institute of Criminology and Criminalistics, in Brussels, Belgium, to assess the contribution of forensic advisors and the use of forensic science in major crimes.