In 2013, the Queensland Police Citizens Youth Welfare Association (QPCYWA) provided funding for researchers from QUT’s Crime and Justice Research Centre to undertake an evaluation of the crime prevention and community safety impacts of Police-Citizens Youth Clubs (PCYCs) in Queensland. The researchers – Dr Cassandra Cross, Dr Angela Dwyer and Dr Kelly Richards – drew on their combined experience researching policing, young people and communities to conduct the research.
The goal of QPCYWA is to enhance Queensland communities through youth development, and the 54 PCYCs throughout Queensland aim to “get to the kids before the kids get to the police station”. To meet this aim, PCYCs across Queensland provide a wide range of sporting, leisure, cultural and welfare activities and programs, which aim to facilitate the personal development, communication and leadership skills of young people. PCYCs also provide numerous programs that aim to reduce juvenile offending.
The research involved interviewing 150 individuals, including about 30 young people, who are involved with PCYCs across Queensland. This included interviewing PCYC senior management and club managers, stakeholders whose organisations work in collaboration with PCYCs, volunteers, parents and young people who participate in PCYC activities and programs, and members of the Queensland Police Service. The research focused in particular on three PCYC clubs as case studies: one each in a Queensland metropolitan, regional and remote Indigenous community.
The study found that PCYCs are highly valued in communities across Queensland. In particular, they contribute towards:
- providing structured low-cost activities for young people and community groups;
- developing positive relationships and trust between young people and police;
- developing young people into effective citizens;
- providing a safe place for young people and a hub for whole communities;
- addressing disadvantages faced by young people; and
- fostering social inclusion.
The evaluation also found that depending on the particular activities and programs delivered by a branch, PCYCs have the capacity to minimise risk factors and enhance protective factors relating to young people’s involvement in crime. For example, PCYCs can play an important role in strengthening young people’s engagement with education and family.
Overall, the evaluation found that while there are a number of areas in which PCYCs could work more effectively to prevent crime and enhance community safety, they currently play an important role in Queensland communities.
Click here to access the full report.