Police Watchlist Targeting Children needs to be Removed

In an earlier article this year, we wrote about a secret police watchlist called the Suspect Target Management Plan (STMP). The STMP is a list that identifies people who police believe are at risk of committing an offence in the future.

Almost half of the people targeted by the STMP are under the age of 25. Children as young as nine have been reported to be on this list.

Parliamentary committee supports the targeting of children

The NSW Parliamentary Committee on Law and Safety conducted an inquiry into diversionary programs to deter young offenders from the criminal justice system. In its report, the Committee conducted an analysis of the STMP and concluded that the “STMP is an important community safety tool that should be retained.

The Commission’s findings are concerning. The Commission rejected strong submissions that called for the STMP to stop targeting children under the age of 18. Instead, the report states that “feedback from police [indicate] that the STMP is an effective crime prevention tool”. This is a questionable finding given the lack of transparency over the criteria that the police use to determine who is included on the list and their level of risk of committing a future offence.

Further, a person who is targeted by the police is not formally notified, but instead, find themselves being harassed by police. There is no method to confirm whether a person is on the STMP, nor is there a method to appeal. There are transparency issues with the STMP and that the tool should not be used at all.

Damaging impacts on young people

Interactions with the police, no matter how ‘minor’, can have a severe long-term impact on children and young people. This is especially the case when police officers are frequently entering and searching homes under the guise of the STMP. Children and young people are routinely harassed by the police without a reasonable justification, and those from Indigenous backgrounds are particularly over-policed.

The diversion of children and young people from the criminal justice system needs to remain a priority. The STMP undermines this objective and promotes greater police interaction with young people. The tool needs to stop being used by police to ensure that people can live their life without constant police monitoring.

If you think that you are listed on the STMP and want to seek legal advice, call our lawyers on (02) 9261 4281. 

The STMP undermines the objective of diverting young people from the criminal justice system. Instead, it increases young people's interactions with the police.