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18 February, 2021

Government addresses youth crime issue

After the spike in youth crime over the past few weeks on the Tablelands, Cairns and Townsville, the State Government announced that they will move immediately to further crackdown on juvenile crime.

By Phil Brandel

Member for Hill Shane Knuth has released an E-Petition and paper petition called ‘Stop Youth Crime’ in an effort to put more pressure on the government. PHOTO: Supplied.

After the recent spike in youth crime on the Tablelands, Cairns and Townsville, The State Government announced that they will move immediately to further crackdown on juvenile crime.

Organizer of the anti-crime rallies in Mareeba and Atherton last week, Bill Cohen said the new government announcements didn’t go far enough.

“The governments new ideas aren't going to fix anything because they are after the fact solutions," he said.

"The government needs to nip it in the bud before the crime starts.

"We need community programs and interventions."

Mr Cohen said the turnout for the Rallies in Mareeba and Atherton were better than expected.

“The feedback we got was amazing and we got a couple of good ideas from the rally that we are now trying to action," he said.

“We now have to speak to the powers that be, to make those ideas happen and we have plans for more meetings and rallies in the future."

Last week in a joint statement from The Premiers office, and the Attorney-General Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the loss of four innocent lives linked to a spate of senseless crimes would not go unanswered.

“It is clear to me and to the community that some young offenders simply don’t care about consequences,” the Premier said.

Police Minister Mark Ryan said young offenders needed to learn the consequences of their actions.

“This is about targeting the hardcore repeat offenders – those 10 per cent of youth offenders who are frequently putting the community at risk," he said.

“We must stop young hardcore offenders being let out on bail and reoffending the next day. That is why we are making these changes to bail laws.

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

“It is this group we will target with all the force and resources at our disposal.”

The new announcements include granting courts more powers allowing them to:

Require fitting of electronic monitoring devices (GPS Trackers)

·  As a condition of bail for recidivist high risk offenders aged 16 and 17

Create a presumption against bail.

·  For youth offenders arrested for committing further serious indictable offences (such as breaking and entering, serious sexual assault and armed robbery) while on bail.

Seek assurances from parents and guardians.

·  That bail conditions will be complied with before an offender is released.

Strengthen existing bail laws to provide further guidance to the courts.

·  The Youth Justice Act will be amended to include a reference to the community being protected from recidivist youth offenders in the Charter of Youth Justice Principles

The government will also enshrine in legislation the existing common law principle that offending whilst on bail is an aggravating circumstance when the court is imposing a sentence.

To prevent crime:

·  Police will be given metal detecting wands to target knife crime on the Gold Coast;

·  Anti-hooning laws will be strengthened to hold the registered owner of a vehicle responsible except where the vehicle is stolen or the owner can identify another driver; and

·  A parliamentary inquiry will examine the implementation of remote engine immobilisers

In response to the new announcements from the state government Member for Hill Shane Knuth has launched an e-petition and paper petition to be tabled in Parliament in late March after what he claims is “a band-aid solution to fix youth crime which fell short of community expectations.” 

Mr Knuth, who attended crime rallies in both Atherton and Mareeba last week, said stronger action needed to be taken to reduce youth crime. 

“Full credit to Queenslanders right across the state who have been strongly advocating for tougher legislation for repeat juvenile offenders,” Mr Knuth said. 

“Sadly, a number of lives have been lost and while the Palaszczuk Government has taken a small step to crack down on youth crime it doesn’t go far enough. 

“Not only must we address and strengthen current bails laws, but we need a deterrent to stop juveniles from reoffending." 

 Mr Knuth said that KAP is calling for a third sentencing option to be made available to the courts for juvenile offenders. 

“Relocation sentencing must be considered which aims to send repeat offenders to remote areas, teach them values and skills, which helps break the cycle of crime and act as a deterrent to preventing further offences,” he said.

“We have also seen the destruction that unlawful use of a motor vehicle can do to lives and families. This must also be included as a serious offence charge. 

“This is a change to juvenile laws that all Queenslanders have been screaming out for.  

Mr Knuth said petition focuses on the gaps that Labor left out of their recent announcements, such as: 

  • Trial a third option for the courts, in the form of relocation sentencing, as a deterrent and to facilitate the rehabilitation of youth offenders. 
  • Include a presumption against bail for youths charged with the unlawful use of a motor vehicle, in addition to the government announced, breaking and entering, serious sexual assault and armed robbery charges. 
  • Amend legislation to re-introduce breach of bail as an offence for repeat youth offenders. 
  • Ensure that courts are adequately resourced so that Youth Offenders are dealt in an expeditious manner, so that delay in judicial processes are not used as a reason for youth offenders to be granted bail. 
  • Repeal Schedule 1, Youth Justice Act 2015, Charter of Youth Justice, Item 18 which provides that a child should be detained in custody for an offence, whether on arrest, remand or sentence, only as a last resort and for the least time that is justified in the circumstances.  

 Paper petitions can be found in the Hill Electorate office located in the Silo Central Shopping Centre, Atherton and at Bob Katter’s Mareeba and Innisfail offices.  

The link for the online petition is available for all Queenslanders to sign at: 










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