‘Don’t blame us’: Top cop wants bail laws changed
Queensland's Police Commissioner has defended her officers and the courts as she zeroed in on a need to beef up the law to deal with a revolving-door of hardened, young offenders terrorising the state.
Katarina Carroll yesterday revealed her department will draft its own solutions to present to the Palaszczuk Government as she vented her frustration over a core group of repeat offenders who keep walking free.
Even as Police Minister Mark Ryan insisted the laws were working for the majority of children, Ms Carroll said Youth Bail Laws needed to be looked at as police struggled with a small group "we're always opposing bail for, we're always before court for and we're always arresting".
"I wish more were actually put in custody and remain in custody, because we are finding that very difficult … It is very frustrating," she said.
Her calls for change follow a string of dangerous joyrides across the state by young people in the past week that have angered the public and seen demands for immediate law changes from the Opposition.
They include the hit-run murders of Kate Leadbetter, Matt Field and their unborn son Miles, and another smash in Townsville involving a teenage driver out on bail that injured three police officers.
Ms Carroll said around 15 per cent of young offenders in the state "constantly offend" and come from dysfunctional, sometimes criminal families, including about 50 in Townsville.
"Whether it's Townsville or anywhere else, the police are doing everything to put these children before the court," she said.
But Ms Carroll said she was "not going to sit here and blame the courts because I don't know the information the judges or magistrates are making their decisions on".
Instead she pointed her finger at the law itself.
"We need to go back and have a look at the laws and see whether we can come up with any other strategies and initiatives and see what it is with these current laws and see if they can be strengthened," she said.
She said she had "a number of suggestions" she would be putting to the Palaszczuk Government, but would not outline them publicly yet.
"I definitely want a piece of work to be done through my organisation before we take it to the Minister," she said.
Asked about the possibility of curfews - as flagged by the LNP during the October election - Ms Carroll said curfews were very complex and nothing should be implemented without good evidence.
"I will do the research, in other words, and see if that evidence is there," she said.
The Police Commissioner made the comments alongside Police Minister Mark Ryan, who said bail laws were always being reviewed.
He said he was open to all ideas that were "backed by the experts" and were "evidence-based".
But he appeared to caution against a shakeup, even as he admitted there was currently not a lot authorities could do to stop the hardcore group of young offenders from breaking the law.
"When they want to commit crime, they are so motivated by it that they do," he said.
He said the current system was working for the majority of children who never transgressed again.
Using an analogy of children who steal Kit Kats, he said authorities needed to be careful not to declare Kit Kat theft would attract a 25-year prison term, because most of those children would never steal a Kit Kat ever again.
"So why would you undo the system that is working for 85 per cent of people?" he said.
"Of course, if we can improve it so that we are working harder with those hardnut offenders, those hardcore offenders, they we will do everything we can."
Originally published as 'Don't blame us': Top cop wants bail laws changed