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Families, not jail, hold key to taming youth crime wave - top cop

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More time behind bars is not the silver bullet to stop Queensland children committing serious crimes, the head of the state’s Youth Justice Taskforce says.

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The issue has been highly politicised in the state following the deaths of a young couple and their unborn child, killed last year by a 17-year-old driving a stolen car.

The state government passed laws to reverse presumption of bail for serious repeat offenders, and the Liberal-National opposition has been campaigning for the return of breach of bail as a stand-alone offence.

Reversing presumption of bail is a “very strict measure” designed to keep children in custody for longer when they are causing damage on the streets, Assistant Police Commissioner Cheryl Scanlon told Nine’s Today Show on Friday.

But locking up kids for longer is not effective as a deterrent if they are returning to environments of dysfunction, she explained.

“We really have to do something different about breaking the cycle of reoffending with this group, and that’s not just about the child, that’s actually what’s going on inside that household.” Ms Scanlon said.

Panels have been established across the state that take a case management approach for the 400 or so serious repeat offenders the Youth Justice Taskforce is focused on.

“That’s a new piece of work for us … we have 18 of those panels now operating, and they are to target those top 400 kids and their families,” Scanlon said.

Youth crime does not exist in a vacuum, and the multi-agency approach takes into account potential root causes such as exposure to drug and alcohol issues or domestic violence.

“That’s what this intensive case management with these collaborative panels is all about … getting rubber on the road to have a look at what else can be done,” Scanlon said.

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