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YOUTH CRIME – QUEENSLAND’S HARDER APPROACH

The Queensland State Government has announced sweeping changes to crack down on youth crime.

There have been increasing concerns in relation to youth offending in the community and the perceived ‘soft approach’ to youth offending. 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said she has listened to the community and acted implementing a number of changes since 2017. Palaszczuk stated “We acknowledge that local communities and their families have concerns about youth crime”. These concerns have only increased since the COVID-19 pandemic and perception that there has been a further increase in youth crime during this period.

Unfortunately, the most recent statistics of youth crime covering the 2014-15 to 2018-19 periods have shown a significant increase of young people in custody since 2014.

The Youth Justice Annual Summary Statistics custody data shows the average daily number of young people in custody are as follows:

  • In 2014-15 = 171
  • In 2015-16 = 188
  • In 2016-17 = 182 
  • In 2017-18 = 208
  • In 2018-19 = 252 

In an attempt to have a stronger approach to youth crime, and more protective approach to the community, the new legislation has been introduced and is set to be passed through Parliament this week.

The Legislation would ensure repeat youth offenders who are deemed an ‘unacceptable risk to the safety of the community’ to be denied bail.

The amendment that is sought to be introduced would remove the word ‘may’ and replaces it with ‘must’ refuse bail to youth who are deemed to be an unacceptable risk. This is believed to provide clarity to the Courts in relation to bail applications for youth offenders.

This is one part of the Government’s ‘five-point’ plan to take a harder line on youth crime.

The Queensland Police will also have Police strikes teams targeting high risk offenders in Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane, Rockhampton and the Gold Coast. There will be a trial of culture-based rehabilitation through new initiatives in Townsville, Cairns and Mount Isa and 10 community-based crime action committees.

The 10 community-based crime action committees will be rolled out in, Cairns, Townsville (as a continuation of the Townsville Stronger Communities Action Group), Rockhampton, Mount Isa, Toowoomba, Caboolture, Ipswich, Logan (to be integrated with activities of the Logan Together initiative), Gold Coast, and Brisbane.

What are your thoughts, is this harder approach justified?

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