Criminologists Dr Kelly Richards, Dr Cassandra Cross and Dr Angela Dwyer from QUT’s Crime and Justice Research Centre conducted the study for the Queensland Police Citizens Youth Welfare Association which oversees the clubs.
Dr Richards said the goal of the PCYCs is to ‘get to the kids before the kids get to the police station’ by engaging them in a range of activities.
“Queensland PCYCs provide a wide range of sporting, leisure, cultural and welfare activities and programs that aim to encourage personal development, communication and leadership of young people,” she said.
“People of all ages can take part in PCYC activities and we found they were attended by an equal number of females as males. Each PCYC is managed by a police officer.
“Anyone can attend PCYCs and activities can involve the family – we found fathers and sons doing martial arts together strengthened family relationships.”
“We interviewed 150 people, including 30 young people, involved in PCYCs throughout Queensland on a range of issues and we conducted case studies of a PCYC in the city, in a regional area and in a remote Indigenous community.
Dr Cross said feedback from young people on what they would be doing if their local PCYC closed down gave a good indication of how valued they were by their communities for offering engaging, low-cost activities.
Their replies included:
‘Sitting at home doing nothing, achieving nothing’
‘Try(ing) to build another one!’
‘I wouldn’t be happy I’d be like NOOOO come back here!!!’
“Participants told us they felt they had benefitted from the structure involved in sticking to a martial arts course where they learn discipline, respect and non-violence,” Dr Cross said.
Dr Dwyer said that, overall the research team had found the PCYCs were effective in developing positive relationships and trust between people and police with comments such as ‘I don’t like cops but he’s (branch manager) alright’.”
“Feedback such as: ‘We learn some leadership skills; we learn how to respect people and actually get to learn how to be more responsible in ourselves’ and: ‘It keeps you out of trouble … if you get suspended at school, you get suspended from (PCYC) … yeah so basically (it) pulls our head in’ tell us young people are responding to the PCYCs’ aims,” she said.
PCYC Queensland CEO Senior Sergeant Rob Fiedler said PCYC was pleased the research results had confirmed anecdotal evidence from parents and teachers on how their programs change young people’s lives.
“We are kicking goals with our crime prevention initiatives. Our work also benefits the wider community by averting young people from making poor life choices to become better citizens which consequently reduces the time local police spend on youth crime,” he said.
Overall the research team found PCYCs had the capacity to minimise risk factors and enhance protective factors that reduce young people’s involvement in crime.
The full report is available from QUT eprints.
Media contact: Niki Widdowson, QUT Media, 07 3138 2999 or [email protected].