'Hardcore': Queensland unveils crackdown on young thugs
PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk has listened to the anger of Gold Coasters fed up with the city's youth crime epidemic, vowing to finally get tough on young thugs.
The State Government will on Tuesday announce sweeping changes in a multimillion-dollar statewide crackdown on 'kindergarten crooks'.
A five-point plan signed off by the Government on Monday includes:
● Tougher action on bail which would see offenders who are considered a risk to the community remain locked up.
● A police blitz on bail, appealing court decisions where appropriate.
● A 24/7 police strike team involving youth justice workers for high-risk offenders.
● Culture-based rehabilitation for indigenous offenders in Townsville, Cairns and Mount Isa.
● $2 million to be spent on community-based organisations for "local community-based solutions".
Ms Palaszczuk said the crackdown came after growing concern from the Gold Coast community and lobbying from MPs.
"We acknowledge that local communities and their families have concerns about youth crime," she said.
"Where there is crime there must be punishment. Criminals - especially young ones - should fear the law. It has to be crystal clear to everybody community safety comes first."
The Bulletin understands some legislative changes to the Youth Justice Act will be required.
The crackdown has been developed in recent weeks in conjunction with senior police, including Commissioner Katarina Carroll, the Government said.
Some of the measures will come into effect "as soon as possible".
The Gold Coast Bulletin has campaigned for tougher penalties for young offenders who have brazenly terrorised the city in the past year.
The Palaszczuk Government has been under pressure to act after a spate of luxury car thefts, home break-ins, the bashing of bus drivers and innocent people on public transport, assaults on passengers for designer clothing and mobile phones, and the stabbing deaths of teenagers.
More than 3100 Bulletin readers responded to an online poll last month asking if the problem was out of control. Almost 2900, or 92 per cent, said yes. Thousands of angry readers have commented on the Bulletin's Facebook page backing calls for change.
Frontline cops said they were sick of arresting young criminals, only for them to skip out the back of court and reoffend. A police union rep feared there would come a time when they stopped arresting youths, because "if there are no consequences for these kids, how can we expect the offending to stop?"
The Bulletin last month revealed the case of a 12-year-old boy who held up a convenience store. He was too short to see over a court dock. Within a month of walking from court, he allegedly stole and crashed a BMW at speed into two other vehicles. A woman driver was taken to hospital.
Police Minister Mark Ryan said on Monday night the Government's new measures would roll out immediately.
"We will go hardcore on the hard-nut offenders and will ensure these offenders are held to account and the community is safe," he said.
"The Government's intention has always been clear and that is community safety must come first and that's the message we are reinforcing."
Youth Justice Minister Di Farmer last month told the Bulletin just 10 per cent of offenders committed almost half of youth crime and that the funding was being spent to "break the cycle".
"The community expects young people to be accountable for their actions, and so do we - but they also don't want to see them reoffend.
"If we keep doing the same thing we have been doing, year after year, we can't expect different results.
"We know if we keep locking young people up and throw away the key, they're almost guaranteed to reoffend."