The attitudes and perceptions of sworn Victoria Police personnel in relation to the implementation and ongoing enforcement of the Victoria Police cannabis cautioning program

Thyssen, P 2013, The attitudes and perceptions of sworn Victoria Police personnel in relation to the implementation and ongoing enforcement of the Victoria Police cannabis cautioning program, Masters by Research, Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title The attitudes and perceptions of sworn Victoria Police personnel in relation to the implementation and ongoing enforcement of the Victoria Police cannabis cautioning program
Author(s) Thyssen, P
Year 2013
Abstract The research examines the attitudes and perceptions of Victoria Police personnel in relation to the Victoria Police Cannabis Cautioning Program (CCP). The CCP (1998) was introduced as a means of reducing the harms associated with cannabis consumption and to divert first-time minor offenders away from the criminal justice system. The program was designed to give offenders a second chance by allowing them to avoid the stigma associated with a court appearance. The thesis examines the implementation of the CCP and the impact it has had on drug law enforcement within Victoria. This is explored through the examination of police interactions with minor cannabis offenders.

The research further examines police perceptions in relation to the CCP, the move away from strict prosecution of minor cannabis offenders and its effect on police exercising their discretionary powers. The research considers the impact of police training, force instruction and offender attitude on the police decision-making process. Also examined is police acceptance of the CCP concept and how they perceive its acceptance within the community.

Police experiences of the CCP and ultimately their perceptions of the program are discussed through the use of an interpretivist framework. Symbolic interaction and the development of a shared “meaning system” can possibly explain how police view the CCP and its impact on drug law enforcement and the criminal justice system as a whole. The research uses qualitative techniques. Qualitative data include semi-structured face-to-face and telephone interviews with sworn Victoria Police personnel from uniform, Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU) and prosecutions departments.

Police accepted the concept of the CCP and were willing to give offenders a second chance, however they also wanted offenders to be compelled to attend drug education sessions. Offender attitude towards police and drug use as a whole ultimately determined whether police would issue an offender with a caution. The research shows that although police would like to see some changes to the program, there was a general acceptance of its aims and objectives. Acceptance of the CCP was, however, not solely based on these aims and objectives. The research shows that police used the CCP because it saved them time in the processing of offenders, preparing briefs of evidence and appearing at court to give evidence. This was considered in the first instance. The CCP as a harm minimisation strategy was only considered in the second instance and therefore illustrates a need for additional police training. A number of other suggestions for further police and policy development are posed.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global, Urban and Social Studies
Keyword(s) Cannabis
Drug Use
Policing
Drug Courts
Victoria Police
Police Perceptions
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Created: Thu, 04 Jul 2013, 15:13:14 EST by Brett Fenton
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