Top cop’s reason for youth crime crisis

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NewsWIRE Photos MARCH 1, 2024: Commissioner Katarina Carroll’s last day. Out going Queensland Police commissioner Katarina Carroll leaves the Roma street police headquarters. Picture: NCA NewsWIRE / John Gass

A guard of honour has farewelled outgoing Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll as she finished her role as the state’s top cop on Friday.

Officers gathered on the front steps of the Roma St headquarters on Friday.

Ms Carroll was flanked by family, including husband Michael and son Connor, as the police pipe and drums played while she exited the building for the final time.

Outgoing Commissioner Katarina Carroll on her last day. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ John Gass

Ms Carroll formally stepped down as the state’s top cop on Friday after more than 40 years with the Queensland Police Force and state emergency services, and five years as the Queensland Police Commissioner.

In a parting address, Ms Carroll said the Covid pandemic had been an “extraordinarily challenging” time for police and in the years since the force had continued to battle increased crime, including among youth.

“The world has changed post-Covid. We can see it in our daily statistics. The exponential increase in domestic violence, in mental health, the increase in the changing behaviour of youth crime,” Ms Carroll said.

Commissioner Announcement
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll will step down on Friday. Picture: Dan Peled / NCA NewsWire

“Youth crime where the notoriety on social media platforms is the challenge. Where the breaking in to steal the keys to steal high-end vehicles, these are some of the things that we did not see prior to Covid.

“The exponential increase in violence in terms of the weapons that young people are using … So yes, the environment has changed substantially and it is more challenging and demand has definitely increased.”

When reflecting on the past five years of her leadership, Ms Carroll said she could not “remember in my time or even in the history (of the Queensland Police Force) that there has been a tougher five years”.

Outgoing Queensland Police commissioner Katarina Carroll was farewelled at Roma street police headquarters on Friday. Picture: NCA NewsWIRE / John Gass
Police came to say goodbye to Katarina Carroll on her final day Picture: NCA NewsWire / John Gass

“We went through Covid, a number of task forces, the commission of inquiry, the deaths of three police officers. The demand that we’re dealing with … they have been the toughest of five years,” she said.

Ms Carroll said the role of a police officer had also changed during her five-year tenure, with police attending an increasing number of mental health jobs.

Vyleen White was allegedly stabbed to at a suburban shopping centre. Picture: Supplied/Facebook (via NCA NewsWire)
Vyleen White was allegedly stabbed to at a suburban shopping centre. Picture: Supplied/Facebook (via NCA NewsWire)

Her departure comes amid widespread criticism of the state’s police force, including the handling of a worsening youth crime crisis characterised by violent attacks and robberies.

In February, Vyleen White, 70, was allegedly stabbed to death near her car in an underground carpark in Ipswich. Five teenage boys were later arrested and charged by police over the alleged attempted robbery.

Queensland Police announced on Thursday that 1000 alleged youth offenders had been arrested since May 2023 under Taskforce Guardian, which wrapped up operations in Townsville, Cairns, and South Brisbane.

During its almost two-month deployment to Townsville earlier this year, the operation resulted in the arrest of almost 140 people on 412 charges, including 128 young people.

Ms Carroll leaves behind an embattled police force. Picture: NCA NewsWire / John Gass

In recent years, the state’s police force has also faced criticism over its handling of youth incarceration. A late-2022 report found Queensland had more children in detention than any other state or territory.

The report, published by the Justice Reform Initiative, accused the state of a “revolving door” model costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars per year as incarceration rates climbed.

Nonetheless, Ms Carroll said she would leave behind the police force with a love for “seeing what police do in their community”, with her work during the 2014 Brisbane G20 summit a highlight.

As for her life post-police, Ms Carroll said she looked forward to a “long sleep and rest”.

“I have not had many holidays or many breaks in the past 12 years. I think I need to learn to slow down and just enjoy my family, enjoy a bit of a slower pace, and maybe then I’ll think about next steps,” she said.