Keep minor crimes out of court: Qld review

Stuart Layt

Children and teens who commit minor crimes should be kept out of Queensland's court system, according to a review that aims to stem youth crime.

Former police commissioner Bob Atkinson, who has led a review of Queensland's youth justice system, says the focus must be on prevention and diversion programs.

His recommendations include keeping minor offences by young people out of the courts, more flexible options to keep young Queenslanders engaged in education, and support for parents as early as the prenatal stage.

"I do think without being "soft" in any way, there are more sensible and better ways we can approach a whole range of issues," Mr Atkinson told reporters on Friday.

"Do we want the courts clogged up with children who commit minor offences?"

"What we're saying is if there's a program which a child can be diverted to, that might assist preventing that reoffending."

Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said one such program already being operated where young people were made to confront their victims had resulted in a 41 per cent reduction in reoffending rates.

The Liberal National Party opposition, while agreeing with the view that young offenders should have the opportunity to turn their lives around, said if they had committed crimes they should serve their sentences.

"Young offenders who have committed crimes do need to be held accountable for their actions," LNP Justice Spokesman David Janetski said.

"This review that's been released today really does look like an exercise in crisis management."

The review follows initial moves by the Labor government to remove 17-year-old offenders from adult prisons and invest in diversion programs.

In February, Youth Minister Di Farmer said transferring 17-year-olds from adult prisons would be delayed because youth detention centres were already full after a spike in the number of detainees.

On Friday, Ms Farmer said seven 17-year-olds remained in adult jails in Queensland, with an expectation there would be no 17-year-olds in the adult system by October.

"A number of those young people still in the adult system actually chose to stay there," Ms Farmer said.

"That can often be because they're doing programs which they're getting something out of, they have friends or family in the facility with them or they're close to family locally."

The minister said the government would now tour the report around the state to get feedback from local communities about the 77 recommendations and how they could be implemented most effectively.