Early intervention – the roles of schools, police, communities and courts in diverting young people from the criminal justice system

Assistant Commissioner Joseph Cassar1, Mr Dominic Teakle2, Mr Alex Sakis3, Superintendent Mark Wall (chair)1

1NSW Police Force, Sydney, Australia, 2Police Citizens Youth Clubs (PCYC) NSW, Whalan, Australia, 3NSW Department of Education, Sydney, Australia

This panel will look at opportunities where young people may be referred into diversionary programs, such as the Commissioner’s RISEUP Strategy and the importance of collaboration between schools, courts, communities and police.

Speakers will discuss the value of incident and suspension data from schools to identify young people who have not yet come into contact with the criminal justice system.  Access to this information allows police to intervene earlier in the young person’s trajectory towards criminality and provide support to address the underlying criminogenic factors.

Police officers come into contact which children and young people in the course of their official duties as witnesses, victims and offenders.  Speakers will outline how the NSW Police Force seeks to ensure that all police officers are aware of the options available to them when dealing with young people and pursue early intervention and diversionary approaches as a matter of priority.

Once young people have come into contact with the courts, there is still a role to play in diverting young people from custodial sentences and referring them into intervention programs. Speakers will highlight the referral pathways from courts into educational and development programs for young people.

Finally, the panel will discuss the NSW Police and PCYC suite of early intervention programs for young people as part of the Commissioner’s RISEUP Strategy which seek to achieve positive outcomes for young people and divert them from the criminal justice system.  These programs help tackle the underlying causes of offending behaviour, reduce crime and violence.


Superintendent Mark Wall has over 23 years of operational policing experience in both metropolitan and regional locations with the NSW Police Force.  His career has been spent in front line policing, from Broken Hill to Wollongong Police Stations and he has performed the role of Duty Officer at various metropolitan commands.  Superintendent Wall also has experience as Staff Officer to the Southern Region Commander in 2015 and, in 2017, as Staff Officer to the Deputy Commissioner, Regional NSW Field Operations.  During his time working with the Deputy Commissioner, Superintendent Wall assisted in forming the direction of the newly created Regional Deputy office as well as the re-engineering of the NSW Police Force and the formation of the Police Districts in regional NSW.  In 2019 Superintendent Wall was promoted to his current rank as the Commander, Youth and Crime Prevention Command.  He has completed a Diploma in Policing, Advanced Diploma in Police Management and Graduate Certificate in Applied Management.

Assistant Commissioner Joe Cassar APM joined the New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF) in December, 1987 and has performed General Duties policing in the Regional and Metropolitan Commands.  In 1992 Joe was designated as a Detective and worked in both local Criminal Investigations and Specialist Criminal Investigations, including the Drug Squad, Child Abuse and Homicide Squad.

In 2005 Joe was promoted to Detective Inspector, Crime Manager – Eastern Beaches LAC.  In 2008 Joe set up the NSWPF Alcohol Licensing Enforcement Command, which proved to be a primary contributor to changing alcohol related culture and alcohol service attitudes within NSW.  In 2010 Joe was promoted to Superintendent, where he commanded the Cabramatta, Shoalhaven and Wollongong Local Area Commands.  On 30 July, 2017 Joe was promoted to Assistant Commissioner, of the newly created Capability, Performance and Youth Command.  This Command takes in the Youth & Crime Prevention Command who work closely with all NSWP Commands and the Police Citizen Youth Clubs in reducing youth reoffending rates.

Joe has completed the Bachelor of Policing (Investigation); Graduate Diploma (Investigations Management) and the NSWPF Strategic Leadership Development Program.

PCYC NSW is a unique partnership between NSW Police, Rotary and the Community offering an amazingly diverse range of services to serve the community and empower young people to reach their potential.

Dominic commenced at PCYC NSW in November 2016. Dominic has extensive executive experience across Government, Events and entertainment, IT services and sporting organisations, with a 20 year career as an Army Officer which included representational and operational experience. He brings to PCYC NSW a strong values based leadership style, respect for the Police and history, and a passion to grow the legacy of PCYC NSW to deliver expanded empowering experiences to youth and the community.

Alex Sakis is responsible for leading a multi-disciplinary team that works with NSW schools to assist vulnerable students including those that may be exhibiting anti-social and extremist behaviours. Alex Sakis has over 20 years’ experience with the NSW Police Force, including over a decade of work on efforts to counter violent extremism and complex community engagement. He is committed to the design and implementation of strategies to support young people that are participating in high-risk taking behaviours.  He works closely with NSW Police and other relevant stakeholders to identify and manage risks in these areas.