The Queensland Government says its package of youth justice reforms passed in Parliament last week are designed to target “hardcore recidivist offenders” as part of its crackdown on child crime.
Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard said on Friday that the array of measures to be introduced would include GPS monitoring devices for high-risk repeat offenders and a presumption against bail for serious repeat offenders who commit a crime while already on bail.
Ms Linard said the reforms had been designed to target a “small cohort of recidivist offenders” who caused a disproportionate amount of harm, damage and crime in the community.
The State Government said in a statement that it had amended the Youth Justice Act to include a reference to the community being protected from recidivist youth offenders in the Charter of Youth Justice Principles.
The Government said the amendments also enshrined in legislation the principle that offending whilst on bail was an aggravating circumstance when the court is imposing a sentence.
Ms Linard said more than $38 million in public funding had also been earmarked to introduce new and expand existing measures it believed would curb youth crime including:
• GPS monitoring devices for high-risk repeat offenders
• presumption against bail being granted to serious repeat offenders who commited a crime while on bail
• courts having the power to seek binding parental or guardian assurances before an offender is released
• continued trial of GPS monitoring of children in Townsville, North Brisbane, Moreton, Logan and the Gold Coast, and
• the expansion of the Police and Youth Justice Co-responder strike teams to North Brisbane and the Gold Coast (in addition to existing Co-Responder teams based in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Moreton and Logan).
Ms Linard said a further $60 million would be invested over the next four years to support programs and services that are showing positive results in steering young people away from offending behaviour.
“Community safety has always been a priority for the Government (and) that is why we have continued to provide record funding for youth justice reform,” Ms Linard said.
Police Minister Mark Ryan said the suite of youth justice reforms was about targeting the hardcore repeat offenders – the 10% of young offenders who frequently put the community at risk.
“Ten percent of all youth offenders account for 48% of all youth crime,” he said. “It is this group we are targeting with all the legislative and frontline strategies at our disposal.”
Former Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson has been tasked to with reporting on the efficacy of the measures within six months and Assistant Police Commissioner Cheryl Scanlon is leading a youth crime taskforce to implement the new measures.
The announcement has so far garnered a mixed reaction from youth justice advocacy groups and members of the legal profession, with some describing it as a ‘knee jerk’ reaction that may appease the public but will not necessarily prevent crime.