Aboriginal Community Patrols in Australia: Self-Policing, Self-Determination and Security

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This article emerges from research conducted across Australia on Aboriginal self-policing initiatives, generically referred to as "Community Patrols", "Aboriginal Patrols" or "Night Patrols". The study was intended to produce a national profile of Patrols, and similar services, around Australia. Our research reveals that Aboriginal people are actively engaged in a diversity of self-policing practices in urban, rural and remote communities across Australia. These policing practices differ markedly from those offered by the mainstream police and the private security sector in a number of crucial respects: the most obvious being that they are largely staffed by volunteers, operate without an arsenal of formal powers, and do not offer a commodified security service. Aboriginal Community Patrols are local initiatives by Aboriginal people evolved to intervene in situations where Indigenous people are at risk of enmeshment in the criminal justice system, or where they face multiple hazards associated with community disorder, alcohol, drugs and violence. Recent theorizing on the nature of contemporary policing, stressing some of the benefits of becoming linked to local security networks, provides a useful conceptual space for exploring the potential role of Indigenous self-policing, providing that principles of self determination are not sacrificed in the process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-328
JournalPolicing and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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