Joint Protocol

Monitoring the implementation of the Joint Protocol – analysis of incidents in which police have been called

Our office currently requires disability supported accommodation providers to notify our office of any incidents in which police are called in response to the behaviour or conduct of a resident, commencing from 1 September 2017. The purpose of the information is to analyse the data to gain a comprehensive picture of the types of matters in which police are called, identify themes and patterns, and to inform our monitoring of the implementation of the Joint Protocol.

Providers are required to provide brief information, comprising:

  • the name of the service
  • address of the residence
  • name and DOB of the clients involved
  • NSWPF Event No. (if known)
  • date of the incident, and
  • brief information about what occurred.

The below information is based on the incidents that occurred in the five months from 1 September 2017 to 31 January 2018.

  • In the five-month period, 752 incidents were notified by 136 providers
  • On average, 150 incidents are notified each month

On average, 35 providers notify incidents each month (a range of different providers).

  • Most (42%) report 1 incident
  • 38% report 2-5 incidents
  • 10% report 6-10 incidents
  • 10% report >10 incidents (including 23, 39 and 44 incidents in one month)

On average, 98 clients are involved in the notified incidents each month (a range of different clients).

  • Most (72%) are involved in one incident
  • Those involved in >1 incident in a month have included clients involved in 8, 12, and 17 incidents during that one-month period
  • Most (66%) are male
Conduct resulting in police contact Sept 17 Oct 17 Nov 17 Dec 17 Jan 18%
Threatening/aggressive behaviour 33 24 22 19 16 15
Physical assault 34 22 37 23 21 18
Absconding 32 55 25 28 29 22
Escalating behaviour 17 19 31 15 22 14
Property destruction 7 11 7 14 7 6
Sexual assault 9 5 4 6 4 4
Self-harm 9 9 13 9 12 7
Other 6 11 12 11 17 8
Mental health 6 2 2 8 7 3
Verbal abuse 1 6 5 3 5 3
Total %     100

Closer examination of selected matters

To enable us to obtain a comprehensive picture of the types of matters in which police are being called, we take a closer look at a sample of matters each month. Among other things, we examine the circumstances that led to the involvement of police, opportunities for prevention, the response of police, and actions to minimise recurrence. As part of our closer examination of the sample of matters, we review information recorded in the Police databases. The selection of matters is intended to capture a range of providers, regions, and type of behaviour (as well as particularly serious matters).

Between 1 September 2017 and 31 January 2018, 154 matters were selected for closer examination and assessed as to whether police involvement appeared to be warranted. From the initial review, we assessed that:

  • Police contact appeared to be warranted in 76 matters (49%) – including where there was imminent risk of harm to self and/or others.
  • Police contact was potentially warranted in 21 matters (14%) – including cases where it was not clear what action had been taken by staff to de-escalate the situation prior to contacting police.
  • It was not evident that police contact was warranted in 36 matters (23%) – including matters where staff indicated that contact with police was to comply with the provider’s ‘operating procedures’ or to get an Event No; the incident involved verbal threats only; and where police were contacted after risk had been mitigated, with the aim of sending a message to the client.
  • There was insufficient information in 21 matters (14%) to make an assessment as to whether contact with police was warranted – for example, the information from the provider and police contained insufficient details about the circumstances. We have sought further information from providers in relation to these matters.

Our analysis of the notified incidents has identified a number of emerging issues, including:

  • There appears to be scope for further work between providers and police to more effectively deal with matters involving clients leaving and/or not returning to premises. For example, developing risk-based response plans between local police commands and providers in relation to clients who regularly leave the premises without staff knowledge and/or support.
  • There are issues relating to the use of Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs) that are taken out against residents. There has been a range of matters in which an AVO has been taken out against a resident to protect a staff member, and the staff member has continued to work with the person. In 40% of these matters, the resident has then breached the AVO.
  • We are seeing evidence of strained relationships between police and disability services where there is increased regular contact with police for incidents that do not appear to be emergencies, regardless of whether the contact is initiated by the service or another party (eg: neighbours).
  • In a number of incidents, the situation appeared to be escalated by the actions of the support worker – eg: where the staff member confronted the resident, or actively placed themselves in the path of a resident with escalated behaviour.
  • Where police have been called by staff in response to lower-level behaviours between clients, it has not always been evident that staff have had a discussion with either client prior to calling police.

We have also identified positive practices between providers and police. For example, a police officer updated the police database to include information about strategies that help to reduce the aggression of a resident when police attend incidents (such as playing certain music on their phone).

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