Despite some commentary, the number of offences committed by young people in Queensland is actually reducing.

There is, however, a cohort of about 10 per cent of offenders committing 48 per cent of the crime.

That's a big opportunity for focused change if we work together.

You'll find the front line providers have very similar ideas.

There is another myth that bail is just a revolving door and that the system is broken.

The reality is we have 230 young people in youth detention in Queensland and 80 per cent of them are on remand.

Youth Advocacy Centre chair Damien Atkinson QC.
Youth Advocacy Centre chair Damien Atkinson QC.

They didn't get bail so they are waiting for court appearances.

On the other hand there are many young people who do get bail for minor offences and who never reoffend. That's not surprising.

If you look at section 48AA of the Youth Justice Act it says a magistrate, a judge or a police officer must refuse bail if the young person is an unacceptable risk of offending and they can't mitigate that risk by conditions.

The police and courts only grant bail if they consider its workable.

I understand the current outrage because it is a shocking event, but we don't want a knee-jerk reaction to determine how we treat young people in this state.

We have excellent, experienced police and magistrates in this state.

When they consider bail, they balance the possibility of rehabilitating the child with the interest in public safety.

Why would we tie their hands? Why would we condemn all children to remand in youth detention centres where they mix with more troubled teenagers? We all want to reduce offending but that's not the solution.

Barrister Damien Atkinson QC is the Youth Advocacy Centre chair

 

Originally published as Despite the outrage, youth crime is on the way down


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