Dr Vicki Sentas was interviewed on FBI Radio (28 October 2017) speaking about her recent report into the Suspect Target Management Plan (STMP).

How did you first come across the program?

The program was first introduced seventeen years ago, so it’s been around for a really long time, but it’s really surprising that most people haven’t heard of it before. I first came across it [STMP] when I was working with Redfern Legal Centre, which is a well-known community legal centre, about three years ago.

I run a Police Powers Clinic because Redfern Legal Centre run a state-wide practice where they support people with complaints against the police. Ranging from things like, people who have been assaulted by the police or unfairly or unlawfully stopped and searched. So, they’re one of the go-to legal centres that help people.

I was there supervising students at the clinic and we had clients that would say

‘The police have been constantly stopping and searching me, coming into my house late at night but I’m not on bail conditions. My criminal matter has been finalised, but the police are still coming around and asking me questions’.

I would think that was strange, and they don’t have the power to do that. And the kids would say,

‘Well, they say it’s because I’m on a STMP and they can do this.’

So, from that time, we started to piece together from the ground up what was going on. We worked with other community legal centres [such as] the public community advocacy centre. Once we started to talk to other organisations like the aboriginal legal service, legal aid and other CLCs, it was clear that there was a pattern going on here.

What is the point of the STMP project? What are they trying to achieve?

There’s a couple of different ways of understanding the STMP program; so from the police's perspective the idea is that they have targets to reduce crime, they want to reduce offending.

From their perspective, the STMP is a predictive policing tool, so this idea that you have this data that you analyse that says, there’s a small number of people who keep committing the same crime. So from their perspective, if you target people who have committed offences before, it’s considered much more cost effective and efficient. If you look at those people and you monitor them to see if they’re going to commit crimes in the future, or if you keep an eye on them, it will stop them. People will feel so scared or surveyed or monitored, that they’ll think twice about committing a crime in the future.

So, for the police, it’s seen as a way to use their resources efficiently, and what the police will also say, is that it reduces crime - but they haven’t produced, to our knowledge, an evaluation that it’s actually the case.

Listen to the full interview here (from 13:09).