Our focus for the year ahead

Chief Police Officer for the ACT Justine Saunders

Chief Police Officer for the ACT Justine Saunders APM has been a member of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for 27 Years. Read her full biography on the Chief Police Officer page.

Since commencing the role of Chief Police Officer for the ACT in November 2016, I’ve made the rounds to many areas of ACT Policing; meeting our officers and learning about the work they do. I can say with certainty – you’re in good hands.

This year, my focus is to continue the strong headways ACT Policing has made in the areas of family and domestic violence; alcohol fuelled violence; increasing road safety; and building on our work in community engagement and crime reduction with a particular focus on our youth.

Having worked for many years in national security and serious crime, my personal view is if we can keep our young people connected in our families and the broader community, we can reduce the risk of crime and the continuing national security threats associated with radicalisation. Often, once police are called to an incident it’s too late. The key is prevention and early disruption. I’ve learnt we have some great long standing relationships with youth service providers in the ACT that deliver support services and education to youth at risk and we will continuing to work with them in this area.

We will be looking to ensure that every opportunity to intervene in the cycle of family violence is taken, adopting a pro-intervention response model to complement our traditional pro-arrest and pro-prosecution policies. Family violence doesn’t discriminate; it affects men, women and children. Our officers attend between 8-12 incidents of family violence each day and we’re working hard to support families to ensure they’re safe.

ACT Policing will continue to work proactively with the ACT Government and industry stakeholders on how best to reduce and prevent alcohol-fuelled violence, which underpins a range of crimes that occur in the ACT. This is a huge community issue and one that ACT Policing is well resourced to manage. We have a range of tools at our disposal including our Regional Targeting Team who are out enforcing liquor laws, protecting venue staff and patrons by issuing on-the-spot fines for anti-social behaviour etc. in our entertainment precincts.

Our commitment and focus on restorative justice is important to stop the cycle of crime. The traditional approach of arrest, charge, prosecute, absolutely has its place in today’s society but put simply, it is not the answer for everything. We will continue to use the Restorative Justice Scheme to its full potential wherever possible.

Road safety will remain a consistent priority in the ACT as long as there continues to be tragic deaths and life-altering injuries on our roads. We will continue to work with the ACT Government on road safety initiatives, educate our drivers, enforce road rules and raise awareness of dangerous driving behaviours in the community. We are fortunate that Canberra has some of the best environments for drivers, with generally short commutes between destinations. I’m urging everyone to drive to the conditions, be patient and arrive safely for the sake of your families. Tragically one person has already lost their life on our roads this year, which is already one too many.

I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can this year and want to say thank you to the community for your ongoing support to the work of ACT Policing; helping to solve or prevent crime by your proactive reporting to police operations, calls to Crime Stoppers and your interaction with us on social media. I hope you will continue to work with us in 2017 to keep Canberra one of the safest places to live in Australia.