Community & Business

15 February, 2024

We’re ‘fed up’ with crime

PEOPLE living in Mareeba are “absolutely fed up” with youth crime and its impact on their lives, according to Mareeba Mayor Angela Toppin who is demanding “the scales of justice be recalibrated in favour of the victims and the community”.

We’re ‘fed up’ with crime - feature photo

Mayor Toppin made the statements in a formal submission to the Youth Justice Reform Select Committee which is examining ongoing reforms to the youth justice system and support for victims of crime.

In a strongly worded submission, Mayor Toppin said it was her councils’ goal that people feel safe, included and proud to live in their community.

“However, in saying that, I am acutely aware the impact of youth crime is having in my community on businesses, victims, neighbourhoods and individuals, particularly the elderly,” she said.

“I hear it first-hand every single day.

“It is accurate to say my community is absolutely fed up with youth crime and the impact it is having on their lives and the shire's liveability.

“My community, like countless others, is demanding the scales of justice are recalibrated in favour of victims and the community.

“They do believe the current system favours young criminals over victims.”

Mayor Toppin pointed to Queensland Police Service statistics from 2022/23 that showed across the Mareeba and Kuranda policing divisions, that approximately 57% of property crime, which includes unlawful use of a motor vehicle, break and enter, fraud, wilful damage and other theft, was committed by offenders aged between 11 and 17.

“More alarmingly, the figures show, the age of offenders is getting lower and they are now starting to commence offending at 11 and 12,” she said.

Mareeba Shire led the charge for changes to youth justice at the 2021 Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) conference and again in 2022 where they got support from councils for the State Government to establish diversionary facilities on remote State-owned properties for wayward youth.

The LGAQ has since developed a nine-point plan which was adopted at the 2023 conference and has also been submitted to the select committee.

“One point from the LGAQ nine-point action plan I would like to see implemented is increased support and/or compensation for victims of crime,” Mayor Toppin said in her submission.

“All too often victims of crime are also forced to carry the financial burden through no fault of their own.

“Whether it is the small business owner who has to replace shopfront glass for the second, third or fourth time, or the person assaulted at the shops who has to take time off work to recover or the resident who has to pay increased insurance premiums because their car was stolen.

“That is why there needs to be an immediate review of the impact of crime on small businesses and individuals and develop and implement compensatory and supportive strategies that meet identified need and gaps in the current structure.

“This can be done by establishing a local government-funded program derived from the Criminal Proceeds Confiscation Act 2002 to fund initiatives that prevent or minimise criminal activity and support the victims of crime.”

Mayor Toppin also made comment on the Youth Justice Reform Select Committee's Terms of Reference.

“Once again, the focus is squarely on the rights of youth offenders and what further can be done to help, assist and support them,” she said.

“While this is important, it is worth noting the real victims, the victims of crime, are only mentioned twice.

“A shift in focus would certainly start to address the perception the system favours young criminals over victims and the community.”

Katter’s Australian Party also put in a submission, promoting its Relocation Sentencing Policy aimed at reducing the high incidence of recidivist offending by introducing a new sentencing option to deter re-offending and address the shortfalls in current rehabilitation.


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