Queensland Government’s strong new Youth Justice reforms passed by Queensland Parliament

Minister for Police and Corrective Services and Minister for Fire and Emergency Services The Honourable Mark Ryan

The Queensland Parliament has passed a suite of strong new Youth Justice reforms that will target hardcore recidivist offenders.

To support the tough new measures, the Palaszczuk Government is also delivering a new $98.4 million funding package to support the crackdown on youth crime.

The Youth Justice reforms target the small cohort of recidivist offenders who cause a disproportionate amount of harm in the community.

The new funding package includes $38.3 million to support new measures that will target those hardcore youth criminals and crack down on juvenile crime.

On top of that, more than $60 million will be invested over four years to support programs and services that are showing positive results in steering young people away from offending behaviour.

The new funding will deliver more resources to the frontline, with a trial of GPS monitoring devices and the expansion of Co-Responder Teams.

The funding will also provide the enhanced supports to high-risk repeat offenders and their families

Minister for Youth Justice Leanne Linard said the new funding followed more than half a billion dollars of investment in early intervention programs and new detention centre beds.

“This new funding package backs up new tougher measures and laws to monitor and supervise young offenders and provides more resources for frontline workers and courts to deal with repeat offenders,” she said.

“Importantly this funding will ensure a greater level of supervision and support on weekends and out-of-hours and includes the roll out of two additional 24/7 Co-Responder Teams, bringing the total number of Co-Responder Teams to eight.

“Community safety has always been a priority for the government, that is why we have continued to provide record funding for youth justice reform.”

Police Minister Mark Ryan said the package of Youth Justice reforms was about targeting the hardcore repeat offenders – those 10 per cent of youth offenders who are frequently putting the community at risk.

“That is why we have made these changes, including to bail laws.

“Ten per cent of all youth offenders account for 48 per cent of all youth crime.

“It is this group we are targeting with all the legislative and front-line strategies at our disposal.”

The new $38.3 million funding package expands on existing programs and services which includes –

  • a trial of GPS monitoring in Townsville, North Brisbane, Moreton, Logan and the Gold Coast.
  • expansion of the joint 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).
  • enhanced intensive supervision of young people on bail through the Conditional Bail Program, including weekend and after-hours supervision.
  • intensive support for families of children on bail provided by NGOs in communities.
  • additional court and legal advocacy services.

Former Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson will report on the efficacy of the measures in six months and Assistant Police Commissioner Cheryl Scanlon is leading a Youth Crime Taskforce to implement the new measures.

The funding will complement the tough new laws aimed directly at repeat offenders. These new laws include –

  • a trial of GPS monitoring devices for high risk repeat offenders;
  • a presumption against bail for serious repeat offenders who commit a crime while on bail; and
  • the ability for a court to seek assurances from parents or guardians before an offender is released

The government has also strengthened existing bail laws to provide further guidance to the courts.

The Youth Justice Act has been amended to include a reference to the community being protected from recidivist youth offenders in the Charter of Youth Justice Principles.

The government has also enshrined in legislation the principle that offending whilst on bail is an aggravating circumstance when the court is imposing a sentence.

The reform package also includes new measures that give police an enhanced capacity to target offenders.

In addition to these Youth Justice reforms, to prevent and disrupt crime, the government has also:

  1. given police enhanced powers to trial the use metal detecting wands to target knife crime on the Gold Coast
  2. strengthened anti-hooning laws to hold the registered owner of a vehicle responsible except where the vehicle is stolen or the owner can identify another driver; and
  3. established a parliamentary inquiry to examine the implementation of remote engine immobilisers

Police Minister Mark Ryan said the government had listened to the community and was acting decisively.

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