Broaden debate on youth crime: Qld govt

Marty Silk and Fraser Barton
·2-min read

The Queensland government has backed a national youth crime summit amid soul-searching after an alleged double murder shocked the state.

There have been calls for a youth crime crackdown after a Brisbane couple and their unborn baby boy were killed when a teenager allegedly crashed a suspected stolen car last week.

Police Minister Mark Ryan says the state is looking at solutions but he believes different jurisdictions and all levels of government should be working together on youth crime.

"You know, kids aren't just stuck in Queensland or NSW, they move around, with social media they learn things off each other, they highlight their criminal offending on social media, which is a real challenge," he told reporters.

"So I think there is a broader conversation that involves other jurisdictions and the federal government so that we can build the best system for the whole country."

Mr Ryan said he believes in rehabilitation but he understands that there will always be people who "try to defeat justice".

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate called for a crackdown, claiming young offenders had little remorse or compassion for their victims.

He said ankle-monitoring devices for juvenile criminals could be a good start.

"The crimes being committed are real, they are serious and the consequences for the victims is as painful as it would be if an adult offender committed them," Mr Tate said.

The Queensland government is considering electronic tags and harsher sentences for repeat offenders, as suggested by the police union.

But Mr Ryan said statistics show most recidivist offenders are Indigenous, indicating that a more holistic approach in needed.

"They don't just wake up and become criminals," he said.

"There is a broader story there about the Closing the Gap processes around addressing some of those challenging backgrounds that obviously in some people manifests in criminal offending."

Acting Premier Steven Miles said any solution would likely have to involve the child safety, juvenile justice, education and health systems.

"We can't view any of these problems through the prism of one single policy area," he said.

"This isn't just a question about how courts deal with bail, these are questions of intergenerational disadvantage and the impact that that's had on sections of our community."

The Queensland Council for Civil Liberties called on the government to tread carefully with any tweaks to youth justice and bail laws.

QCCL vice president Terry O'Gorman warned that the 1989 Fitzgerald report into corruption found there was a natural tendency for governments to hastily deal with problems in an ad-hoc manner.

He criticised Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll's plan to draft solutions and the Queensland Police Union's suggestion that sentences should be increased.

"It is appropriate to remember that Tony Fitzgerald QC in his landmark report in 1989 warned against giving police a 'favoured role' in law reform," Mr O'Gorman said in a statement.