Five things need to be done immediately to reduce youth crime.

 

1. Legislation: Strengthen youth bail laws and have longer prison sentences for juveniles.

2. Technology: Including GPS tracking anklets for juveniles on bail and mandate remote engine immobilisers.

3. Resourcing: More resources for Police and Child Safety officers.

4. Target the juvenile offender demographic: Juvenile offenders are predominantly indigenous. Let's work with Elders to tackle the social issues.

5. National Summit on Youth Crime: Not just a talkfest. There must be a commitment to real action.

Queensland Police Unions president Ian Leavers. Picture: Glenn Hampson
Queensland Police Unions president Ian Leavers. Picture: Glenn Hampson

In my over 30 years as a police officer I have seen how a community tragedy attracts the usual bunch of opportunistic attention seekers desperate to capitalise on someone else's grief so that they can steal away their own share of the spotlight.

This last week alone I have heard youth crime attributed to any number of issues, with each pundit being particularly devoted to the barrow they were pushing.

In the last week alone, I have seen youth crime variously attributed to lefty magistrates, violent movies, social media, deadbeat parents, politicians, soft laws, a dysfunctional child safety department, video games, police on COVID state border duties, do gooders, judges in ivory towers, divorce, drug and alcohol abuse and political correctness.

This commentary circus has plenty of people willing to identify the problems and causes however there are very few solutions offered. Yet it demonstrates the deep well of discontent and the huge amount of support there is to solve this problem.

Matty Field and Kate Leadbetter were killed when hit by an allegedly stolen vehicle driven by a teenager out on bail. .
Matty Field and Kate Leadbetter were killed when hit by an allegedly stolen vehicle driven by a teenager out on bail. .

The whole point that is being missed here is that the person entrusted to actually examine the tragedy at Alexandra Hills is the Coroner, and I for one will never say or do anything to jeopardise an investigation.

I pride myself and our organisation, the Queensland Police Union, on taking a considered approach.

We will not jump into some half-baked debate on youth crime to fuel outrage. I propose a different path.

I propose a National Youth Crime Summit. In Queensland alone, we have more juveniles under the purview of the Child Safety department than ever before.

There are over 13,000 subject to ongoing intervention. That's almost 140 for every state electorate in Queensland. And it is has been increasing at a rate of almost eight children a week over the last five years.

As you can see, the problem is potentially huge yet the Child Safety department's ability to handle this crisis is lacking. We need better resourcing for both police and the Child Safety department.

Strengthening youth bail laws and increasing prison sentences will work.

Juveniles being arrested after alleging stealing a Prado and ramming a police vehicle in Townsville at the weekend. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Juveniles being arrested after alleging stealing a Prado and ramming a police vehicle in Townsville at the weekend. Picture: Alix Sweeney

You can't fix this problem with a politician's soundbite on the news or catchy, feel good and ultimately vacuous slogans. Real legislative change is needed. However changing laws by themselves is only part of the solution.

It needs to be part of a suite of changes. I have said for years we need to embrace technology such as remote engine immobilisers, and that all juveniles on bail need to be fitted with GPS tracking anklets.

That could assist to stem the problem overnight. The technology exists and it works so let's do it!

The other elephant in the room that the woke politically correct brigade will never acknowledge is that juvenile offenders in Queensland are overwhelming indigenous.

There! Someone has said it.

There is something deeply dysfunctional with indigenous communities all over Queensland where indigenous juveniles are subjected to horrific physical and emotional abuse from a young age and they then go on to perpetuate this abuse in a never-ending intergenerational cycle.

We can pretend it doesn't exist or we can do something about it.

At a forum in the juvenile crime ridden suburb of Mundingburra in Townsville that I attended last year, indigenous Community Elders told me of their own immense frustrations with their young people and a system that turns them back out onto the street. These Elders are pleading and crying out for help too!

This week I am writing to all states and territories, their respective Police Commissioner and police unions and associations, and I believe among this group, we can take positive steps to make a difference. Not just a talkfest. Real action.

I want real change. I want to make a real difference.

Ian Leavers is President of the Queensland Police Union

Originally published as Radical police plan: Five ways to solve youth crime crisis


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