Marty Silk, AAP, February 8, 2021
Repeat youth offenders in Queensland will be fitted with GPS trackers and there will be presumption against bail for those charged with serious offences.
The state government’s youth crime crackdown comes after a series of road deaths involving young offenders, including a Brisbane couple and their unborn baby boy and a female motorcyclist in Townsville.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the changes target about 400 repeat offenders, most of whom are Indigenous, who are allegedly responsible for almost half of all youth crime.
“They will feel the full force of the law when it comes to our changes on bail,” she told reporters.
Former police anti-terrorism commander Assistant Commissioner Cheryl Scanlon will oversee the plan.
Seven legislative changes, including use of GPS trackers, will be passed by the government later this month.
The changes will allow judges to order that recidivist offenders aged 16 and 17 be fitted with GPS trackers as a condition of bail.
“It’s not the panacea, but it is one tool that we don’t have right now,” Assistant Commissioner Scanlon said.
“We have seen it used in other places and that’s what the trial is all about.”
Judges will also have a presumption against bail for offenders who commit serious indictable offences such as breaking and entering, sexual assault and armed robbery while on bail.
Parents and guardians will have to provide assurances in court that bail conditions will be met before young offenders are released.
Youth justice laws will be amended to note that the community must be protected from recidivist offenders and that offending on bail is an aggravating circumstance for sentencing purposes.
Anti-hooning laws will make the vehicle owners responsible for crimes, unless their vehicle is stolen or if they can identify another driver.
Gold Coast police will be given metal detectors to search youths for knives and a parliamentary inquiry will examine the use of remote engine immobilisers for vehicles.
Opposition Leader David Crisafulli tentatively welcomed the plan but said the government needs to make breaching bail a crime again.
“If a magistrate imposes bail conditions and there’s no repercussions for breaching, why on earth would a young offender ever want to comply,” he said.
“That’s the absurdity of the situation.”
Greens MP Michael Berkman said the changes won’t actually address any of the underlying social issues that lead to youth crime.
He said the government should be funding culturally appropriate community support services instead.
“We need to keep kids out of the cycle of criminalisation – nothing about GPS trackers or cramming more kids into prisons and watch houses will do that,” Mr Berkman said.
“The government seems to be taking its cues from conservative commentators and the LNP when they should be listening to the experts in recidivism support services about what really works.”
The issue has become highly charged following the deaths of pedestrians Kate Leadbetter, who was pregnant, and her partner Matt Field when they were struck by an allegedly stolen car driven by a teenager in Alexandra Hills on January 26.
Calls for reform increased with the death of 22-year-old motorcyclist Jennifer Board at Thuringowa on Friday night.
She was hit by a Holden Statesman, which had allegedly been following a stolen Hyundai sedan during an alleged vigilante pursuit.