The Scope of the Case Study
The main documents of interest for this case study were QPS’s Vulnerable Persons Policy (QPS 2010) and other documents which related to the policy, such as the Operating Procedures Manual (QPS
2014), within which particularly relevant chapters were Special need (QPS 2014, Ch. 6), Children (QPS 2015a, Ch. 5), Child Harm (QPS 2015b, Ch. 7), and Custody (QPS 2014, Ch. 16). These documents were available in the public domain, reflecting the principle of transparent practice and procedural justice. We conducted a content analysis (Berg 2009; Sproule 2010) of the QPS documents, recording the range of terms and expressions used to refer to vulnerable people and different groups under this umbrella term. When multiple terms were used, we explored whether distinctions were made to operationalise their meaning.
As a basis for comparison, we conducted broad public document searches to locate a range of policy papers and guidelines for practice from government and non-government organisations involved in the provision of services for vulnerable people in other jurisdictions. This was enhanced through a review of information provided on relevant government agency websites in Australia and the UK (such as policing, health, mental health, education and housing). Any documents that were not written with the purpose of directing policy, expressing policy or providing guidelines as to how the policy should be enacted were excluded from the analysis. Likewise, documents that pre-dated the current policies and practices in use by an organisation were also excluded. The resulting sample of documents included legislation, policies from governmental and non-governmental organisations, guidelines for practice and discussion papers about policy direction or revision.