The South Australian Police African Liaison team was set up over four years ago to improve relationships between South Australia’s African Community and police. SALT Magazine spoke with Dr Juma Abuyi, who, along with Sgt Kym Foster, makes up the team.
The overall focus of the role according to Dr Juma is to improve understanding between SAPOL and South Australian African community; provide cultural awareness training within SAPOL; and prevent/reduce crimes committed by African community members.
“Our role also includes community information sessions on how to interact with police, the role of police, legal system, road laws, and the potential consequences of committing offences,” he said, “We encourage victims or witnesses to speak to Police and help locate missing persons. We educate young people about their individual rights when in police custody, school/youth detention liaison, juvenile justice (Formal Caution and Family Conferences), and help African communities with any policing issues to help them understand the system better”.
We asked Dr Juma about the benefits of the program so far. “The police liaison roles have helped a lot as there is an increase in reporting of crime and we get advanced warning of potential problems within the African community,” he responded, “We are developing and enhancing community relations/leadership, developing interstate PALO liaison partnership and cooperation and there is a change of attitudes and assumptions about police which improves the relationships between Police and African communities which in turn boosts community confidence and openness when dealing with Police”.
The initiative has also given SAPOL officers the opportunity to work with African community leaders and parents to resolve serious community issues via community consultation.
Over the past 5 years the number of offences committed by people of African background in South Australia has reduced and with the continued support from the African community the team believes this reduction will continue
For more information about the role of the Police African Liaison team, please contact Dr. Juma Abuyi JP on 0881725817 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or Sergeant Kym Foster on 0881725817 or by email on email@example.com.