There is an absence of high-quality evidence about which programs are most effective in reducing juvenile offending and crime recidivism.
This study identifies the most common types of police incidents involving high-risk young people, describes the demographic characteristics of the persons of interest, examines the extent to which a community prevention program (BackTrack) is associated with reductions in police incidents, and identifies the perceptions of key stakeholders about the impact of BackTrack.
Routinely collected crime data were obtained from 1999-2013 for Armidale (the BackTrack community). Descriptive analyses identified the most common incidents and their characteristics. Segmented regression analysis of an interrupted time series estimated BackTrack’s impact, with segments specified for pre (1999-2005) and post (2006-2013) the commencement of BackTrack. A thematic analysis was applied the perceptions of police officers and the magistrate in Armidale.
The most common types of police incidents were: break and enter dwelling; malicious damage to property; assault (non-domestic violence); and trespass. Most persons of interest were male, aged 14-17 years. A statistically significant reduction from pre- to post-commencement of BackTrack was identified for three outcomes (p≤0.05), while the fourth (break and enter) approached significance (p=0.055). A key perception was that outcomes are optimised when key stakeholders in community programs and the criminal justice system work together.
BackTrack appropriately targets high-risk young people and is effective in reducing the most common types of criminal incidents.