July 7, 2020
Opposition Leader and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington has unveiled a tough “three strikes, you’re out” policy to target youth crime.
Under the LNP policy – which would be implemented if the party wins power at the October 31 State election – magistrates would have no choice but to lock up young offenders on their third conviction.
The principle that youth detention should be a “last resort” would be removed.
Youths on bail prior to facing court would be monitored 24/7 by Department of Youth Justice workers rather than police, and breach of bail would be reinstated as a criminal offence.
Youth bail houses, where young people on bail are housed if they cannot safely return home, would be scrapped.
The bail houses, which also serve as youth detention centres, were opened in 2017 and are located at Townsville, Logan and Carbrook.
In 2019, an independent review by Griffith University found of the 95 offenders who stayed in the facilities between December 2017 and March 31, 2019, 80 had committed at least one offence after leaving.
However, it also noted a reliable evaluation of recidivism was not possible because there wasn’t a sufficient number of cases.
At the time, Child Safety Minister Di Farmer conceded changes were needed to get value for money from the bail house program but said it would be reviewed again at the end of 2020.
Another plank in the LNP’s youth crime crackdown is the trial introduction of “Community Payback Farms”
Five boot camps were trialled by a previous LNP government but were later scrapped by Labor when it took office in 2015 after an independent review.
The new “Community Payback Farms” would again be located at five sites – Far North Queensland, North Queensland, Central Queensland and two in the South-East region – and house young offenders who have been through youth detention.
The LNP plan said the farms would “focus on learning new skills, improving self-discipline (and) teaching offenders to take ownership of their actions”.
Without mentioning Indigenous young people, the LNP said there would be “a focus on culturally appropriate programs and elder mentoring”.
The crime crackdown would also target adult offenders.
Offences committed as a child – even if a conviction was not recorded – would be allowed to be admitted as evidence when sentencing an adult.
The LNP program would also set aside $7 million for a two-year trial of a “justice reinvestment” grants program, possibly in Cairns and Townsville, for non-government organisations to help reduce youth crime by promoting “physical, cognitive, social and emotional health” in children.
Mrs Frecklington said she was determined to make Queensland communities more safe and secure for families if her party wins the next election.
She said that since 2015 when Labor took power, robberies have skyrocketed 94 per cent in Queensland, unlawful use of a motor vehicle has jumped 77 per cent, assault has increased 35 per cent and shop stealing has increased 70 per cent.
“Everyone has a right to feel safe in their home and out on the streets,” Mrs Frecklington said.
“The LNP will overhaul the failing youth justice system that has brought so much crime and misery to communities like Townsville, Cairns and the Gold Coast.
“Young thugs committing violent crime, car theft and drug use won’t be the norm under the LNP – it will be stamped out.
“The only way to solve the youth crime crisis is to change the government.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government is soft on crime and the scales of justice have been tipped in favour of keeping juvenile criminals on the streets.
“The LNP will make sweeping changes to prevent youth crime, crack down on perpetrators, and rehabilitate offenders to contribute to the community.
“Businesses shouldn’t have to count the cost of theft, families shouldn’t have to replace stolen property, and police shouldn’t be stretched to breaking point.”
Recently appointed Shadow Police Minister Dan Purdie said Labor’s “catch and release laws that let juvenile offenders get away with crime” would be scrapped “once and for all”.
“Police are exhausted and stretched to the limit from catching the same offenders time and time again,” Mr Purdie said.
“There will be no more slaps on the wrist under the LNP. We will bring back true consequences for crime.”