Australian Institute of Criminology

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Keynote speakers

Mr Steve Aos

Benefit-cost analysis in the real world: How the Washington State Legislature is using evidence-based information to lower crime rates and cut crime costs

Steve Aos will discuss the 15 year development of an analytical strategy—and its actual public policy implementation—to incorporate evidence about what works into criminal and juvenile justice policies in Washington State. The central elements include the creation of an evidence-based and economically sound portfolio of public policies designed to reduce crime at lower costs.

The other key elements are the attention to implementation fidelity of the public policies adopted and the linkage to budgetary processes in the government.

Dr Steve Aos is the Director of the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, the non-partisan research arm of the Washington State legislature in the United States. He has 35 years of experience conducting cost-benefit analyses and communicating the results to policymakers in a wide range of public policy areas, as well as in the private sector. His current work focuses on identifying and evaluating the costs and benefits of programs and policies that reduce crime, improve K–12 educational outcomes, reduce child abuse and neglect, improve mental health and reduce substance abuse. He also has many years of experience in energy economics and regulatory policy.

Professor Patricia Brantingham

New research techniques and the dynamic nature of crime: A crime prevention response for the 21st Century

Patricia Brantingham will focus on advances in university–government collaborative techniques available in addressing crime in the twenty-first century, including new ways of looking at crime prevention and crime response both at a local, regional and national level.

The talk will describe, using the Institute of Canadian Urban Research Studies (ICURS) as an example, the value of collaborative government/policy research. Particular focus will be on how to present results in a manner that is understandable to senior government decision-makers and to operational service providers from a local level to a national level.

Information at both these levels makes it possible to see whether a crime prevention approach is working and to simulate the outcome of different policy options.

Patricia Brantingham is the RCMP University Professor of Computational Criminology and Director, Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies, Simon Fraser University

Professor Peter Homel

How do I know if it worked? Measuring the effectiveness of crime prevention in Australia

Knowing whether or not crime prevention policies, programs or projects have had their intended effect is critical for ongoing planning and long-term effectiveness. However, it is widely recognised that the quality of evaluation practice in community-based crime prevention could be better. While there has been considerable progress, there are many areas in which substantial improvements can be made to the way in which crime prevention programs and projects are evaluated.
This paper presents the findings from a number of capacity building projects undertaken by the Australian Institute of Criminology that have been designed to improve the quality of evaluation and performance measurement practice in crime prevention and criminal justice policy more widely.

It is argued that rather than persisting with traditional approaches that seek to encourage local organisations to evaluate their own projects, program managers and central agencies must become more proactive and increasingly innovative in their approaches to evaluation. Doing this means that there is a need for crime prevention to embrace performance measurement processes that combine quantitative and qualitative data to measure the complex range of impacts sought by practitioners and policymakers as well as conventional outcome evaluation. Methods for achieving this are explored and explained, including how to put them into practice.

Peter Homel is Principal Criminologist—Crime Prevention at the Australian Institute of Criminology and a Professor at Griffith University’s Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance.

Professor Anna Stewart

Understanding and costing offending trajectories: Creating an evidence base for targeting crime prevention

Professor Anna Stewart will present findings from the first Australian study (and second study internationally) to investigate the costs of offending trajectories. This study used the 83/84 Queensland Longitudinal Database to explore whether offender pathways differed across sex and Indigenous status.

The results indicated that different trajectory groups were associated with vastly different justice system and economic and social costs. A small fraction of offenders committed a large portion of all crimes and accounted for the majority of costs to the justice system as well as economic and social costs. Identifying this small group of chronic and persistent offenders early and targeting effective early intervention programs towards them would yield substantial cost savings, as well as reductions in offending.

Professor Anna Stewart is Co-Program Leader: Justice Modelling at Griffith, Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance and a former Head of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University.