Vulnerability in Practice: A Case Study of QPS

The QPS’s Vulnerable Persons Policy (QPS 2010) explicitly recognises that people who come into contact with the police may be vulnerable regardless of whether their contact is as victims, witnesses or defendants (QPS 2010: 2). While it makes explicit provisions for 14 categories of recognised vulnerable people, in practice these categories are porous and layered rather than restrictive and siloed. The approach taken by the QPS is distinct from other Australian and international jurisdictions. Constantly under review to adapt to new social movements or demands, it provides, if not the best, at least an important template to consider for policy transfer. In examining the language and practice protocols relating to vulnerable people in Queensland, this study aimed to explore inherent policy assumptions about vulnerability and to consider the distance between current policing practice and the vision set out in the QPS Vulnerable Persons Policy. We present a case study of the terminology related to vulnerable people in Queensland’s legislation, policy and practice guidelines in order to highlight its distinctiveness and contrast it with approaches adopted in other jurisdictions and organisations.

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