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Youth crime numbers are down, but the subject is bound to come up


Queensland is set for a new law and order campaign despite, or because of, figures showing the number of youth offenders at a 10-year low.

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Ahead of the state election on October 31, Police Minister Mark Ryan told parliament, in answer to a question on notice from the LNP’s Mark Boothman, it was not possible to give a breakdown of youth crime rates per district.

“However, I appreciate the Member’s interest in this matter and can advise that the whole-of-state number of young offenders has reduced by 30 per cent and is the lowest it has been for a decade,” Ryan wrote.

Ryan’s response came after a heated parliamentary debate over youth crime policies, and as Labor and the Liberal National Party continue to promote their law enforcement credentials, particularly in the regions.

In parliament this week, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was asked by the Opposition whether she would support proposals to lift the age of criminal responsibility from 10. The pointed question followed media revelations last year of children being at risk in watch houses and a national discussion over proposals to lift the age of responsibility to 13.

“There are absolutely no plans by this government to raise that age,” Palaszczuk told parliament.

The Opposition then sought, unsuccessfully, to have parliament call on the government to implement the LNP’s youth crime package: tougher laws and increased penalties to hold offenders accountable; 24/7 monitoring of offenders on bail by non-police Youth Justice officers; three strikes policy for repeat offenders; a Community Payback Farm program to break the cycle of reoffending; a justice reinvestment program for early intervention; and the end of Youth Bail Houses.

“For the last five years the Palaszczuk government has got softer and softer on crime,” Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington told parliament.

“As a result, the crime rates have climbed higher and higher.”

In response to such concerns, and again targeting young offenders, the government had already announced a police blitz on bail applications, a Police Strike Team involving youth justice workers for high-risk offenders, culture-based rehabilitation for Indigenous offenders, and $2 million for community-based solutions.

During the parliamentary debate, Ryan said only the government could be trusted to deal with youth crime in Queensland.

“Youth crime is a serious issue and it is our government that takes it seriously,” Ryan said.

“On this subject the LNP is a rudderless ship with a mutinous crew, floundering in a toxic sea of failed leadership. It is a leaky LNP boat that foundered on the Queensland border, holed by its own self-interest and disregard for the safety of Queenslanders. Navigate your way through the LNP’s history and you will be swamped by a tsunami of broken promises. It is a shipwreck.”

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