The great grandfather of a teen killed in an alleged stolen car crash is pleading for changes to the youth justice system.
The great grandfather of a teen killed in an alleged stolen car crash is pleading for changes to the youth justice system.

Grandfather’s plea for change to stop youth crime

The great grandfather of a teen killed in an alleged stolen car crash is pleading for changes to the youth justice system.

Graham Pattel, who has more than 10 year experience working with troubled kids inside the Cleveland Youth Detention Centre and across the city believes there needs to be a balance between trauma services and tighter rules to keep young criminals in-line.

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The 68-year-old's great grandson was killed in a crash at Garbutt on June 7, when the car he was a passenger in, lost control, hit a roundabout and smashed into a traffic light, killing four.

Mr Pattel said he knew his great grandson made a bad choice, but could not help but think about what could have been prevented if Cleveland was run correctly.

Graham Pattel says more laws need to be enforced at Cleveland to deter youth crime. Picture: Shae Beplate.
Graham Pattel says more laws need to be enforced at Cleveland to deter youth crime. Picture: Shae Beplate.

He said detention centre officers were "disempowered" and could not do their jobs properly because of contravening laws.

"A change in the centre would impact the behaviour on the streets and provide long term change," he said.

"We can't meet fire with fire, but we have to give some power back to staff.

"We are talking about simply having control. That way they won't want to come back."

He said a more cohesive approach to youth detention laws was needed so officers could work safely and effectively.

His call for change comes after a spate of violent assaults towards detention centre officers.

The Townsville Bulletin last week reported assaults on officers were occurring daily, including three serious incidents where officers suffered broken bones.

Police stated it was up to the detention centre or the victim to report the assault to police for them to investigate.

Graham Pattel, says more laws need to be enforced at Cleveland to deter youth crime. Picture: Shae Beplate.
Graham Pattel, says more laws need to be enforced at Cleveland to deter youth crime. Picture: Shae Beplate.

A source also told the Bulletin how ambulances were rarely called for assault injuries.

Mr Pattel said many children would come into the detention centre traumatised from family violence, sexual abuse or drugs.

"We need to heal the trauma," he said.

"Young people who have suffered trauma don't think about their actions."

Mr Pattel also took aim at the idea of on country programs, saying it is not the answer to rehabilitate children.

"It's a waste of money, they are learning nothing. It's just cheap labour."

It comes as the state government was called out for not meeting the promised time frame and the lack of participation in the $1.5m on country program trial.

Originally published as Grandfather's plea for change to stop youth crime


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