University Of Tasmania

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Law Enforcement, Public Health, and Vulnerability

There is now widespread scholarly and practice agreement that vulnerability is at the very core of law enforcement and public health partnerships. Practitioners also agree that 'clients' are the same across sectors: police often encounter people who have been receiving the care of (public) health practitioners, or, at the very least, been on the radar of these practitioners. Yet, legislation and policy continue to be disjointed in relation to definitions of vulnerability, when consistency in defining the problem, along with collaboration between these fields, would help disciplinary and practice collaborations in the field. As a result, siloed practices remain the norm and are quickly becoming outdated in terms of service delivery efficiency and appropriate care. This chapter will identify the reasons why seeking a better integration of practice across all sectors is a worthwhile pursuit. We argue that debates around disciplinary specificity and fenced-in budgets are to the detriment of better-targeted, holistic service delivery for vulnerable people. Collaborations across law enforcement and public health may appear costly and time-consuming in the short term; however, multidisciplinary practice can elicit significant return on investment and timely recuperation of costs in the longer term. In this chapter, we first consider the nature, and the crucial positioning of vulnerability at the centre of all LEPH collaborations. We then analyse several events that have precipitated renewed attention on vulnerability, as well as the undeniability of its universality.


Publication title

Law Enforcement and Public Health: Partners for Community Safety and Wellbeing


I Bartkowiak-Theron, J Clover, D Martin, RF Southby and N Crofts






School of Social Sciences


Springer Nature Switzerland AG

Place of publication




Rights statement

Copyright Springer Nature Switzerland AG

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Determinants of health; Law enforcement