Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 341–365 | Cite as

The power of policing partnerships: sustaining the gains




Third Party Policing (TPP) involves partnerships between police and third parties where the legal powers of third parties are harnessed to prevent or control crime problems. This paper explores the characteristics and mechanisms of TPP as a crime control strategy, focusing on how the partnership approach in policing can help sustain crime control gains over the long run. Using the ABILITY Truancy Trial as an example, I examine how policing can contribute to long-term social change for high-risk young people living in poor-performing school districts and high-risk communities.


The ABILITY Trial includes 102 young truants randomly allocated to a control (business-as-usual) or an experimental condition. The experimental condition activates the key theoretical components of Third Party Policing (TPP): a partnership between police and participating schools that activates and escalates (where needed) jurisdictional truanting laws (the legal lever).


The paper presents a theoretical discussion of TPP and uses the ABILITY Trial to highlight the way TPP works in practice. Baseline data are presented for the ABILITY Trial. Outcome results are not presented.


Third Party Policing partnerships rest on the capacity of police to build relationships with third parties who have a stake in the crime problem, who possess responsive regulation legal levers, and who have a clear mandate to offer long-term solutions and help sustain the crime control gains. Partnerships, I argue, offer long-term solutions for police because they activate latent mechanisms, building the capacity for third parties to both maintain short-term gains and sustain the crime control gains beyond the lifespan of the initial police intervention.


Third Party Policing Joan McCord Truancy Legitimacy Responsive regulation 



The author gratefully acknowledges the generosity of the Academy of Experimental Criminology (AEC) that, with support from Springer, created and sustains the Joan McCord Award. The work that is described in this paper was supported by the Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship (2010–2015; grant number FL100100014) that is funding, in its entirety, the experimental evaluation of the ABILITY Truancy Trial. As with any large-scale project, the work that is presented in this paper is made possible by the dedication, passion, and professionalism of a large number of very special people. I am, therefore, indebted to Drs Sarah Bennett and Emma Antrobus (research fellows driving the ABILITY Truancy Trial), and Elizabeth Eggins (project manager of the ABILITY pilot) for their input on this paper. I also thank Dr Angela Higginson (co-author of the TPP review with Elizabeth Eggins) and other members of my experimental team at the University of Queensland (Kate Leslie, Emina Pgruda, Laura Bedford, Adele Somerville, Amanda Acutt, Tanya White and Amelia Grey), as well as the dedicated Project ABILITY teams from the Queensland Police Service (especially Tonya Carew, Andrew Gillies, Gregg Chapman and Corey Lane), the Department of Education, Training and Employment (especially Peter Blatch, John Dungan, Karen Barnett, Tony Smith, Glyn Davies, Ian Hill and the staff, students and families from the 10 schools participating in the trial), and the facilitating team drawn from the Department of Communities (especially Claire Walker, Wayne Seeto, Veronica Moggs and Kelli Byrne). The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and are not those of the Queensland Police Service. Responsibility for any errors of omission or commission remains with the authors. The Queensland Police Service expressly disclaims any liability for any damage resulting from the use of the material contained in this publication and will not be responsible for any loss, howsoever arising, from use or reliance on this material.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Social Science ResearchThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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