Top cop forum tackles youth crime
The tragic deaths of an Alexandra Hills couple and their unborn baby on Australia Day was the catalyst for a forum to crack down on youth crime last night.
More than 70 people gathered to listen to one of state's most senior police officers, Assistant Police Commissioner Cheryl Scanlon, talk about her new Youth Justice Taskforce and plans for tough new laws, announced in February.
Interest in the issue has been so intense, the state extended the deadline for submissions on the Youth Justice Bill until Monday, March 22.
Last night's meeting was the second forum in Redlands to discuss youth crime since Kate Leadbetter and Matt Field died when they were hit by a car, driven by a teen.
It was the first to bring together all three levels of government along with police representatives from the southeast.
Last month, federal MP Andrew Laming held a meeting which was not attended by police.
That forum decided the way forward was for early intervention, to make TAFE training courses available for all juveniles, boost youth job opportunities, improve detox and rehabilitation services and harness the support from church and youth groups.
Mr Laming also called for a detox and rehabilitation option for all youth within 48 hours.
Ms Scanlon, who has been the head of the state's anti-terror unit and started her policing career in Woodridge, acknowledged the "hurt and grief" that occurred in the community after the Australia Day deaths.
She said the government's proposed measures were designed to target the 10 per cent of young people who committed about 48 per cent of the state's crime.
The other 90 per cent of youth offenders stayed out of trouble after navigating through the court system and following contact with the Youth Justice Department and police.
"We are committed to doing whatever we can to prevent such a tragedy occurring again," she said.
"The role the premier has asked me to do is a difficult role - but it is not unique to this community.
"The suite of measures we have been offered by the government are … measures we are very pleased about."
Under the proposed laws, bail conditions will be toughened for repeat youth offenders who will be tagged with GPS tracking devices.
Repeat offenders will have to give valid reasons for getting bail while prosecutors will no longer need to argue to keep offenders in custody.
A 12-month trial will be conducted to test the trackers on 16 and 17-year-old offenders on bail at Logan, the Gold Coast, Moreton, North Brisbane and Townsville.
Bayside Patrol Group Inspector Lindsay Kilpatrick told the crowd the Redlands had seen a 20- per cent drop in break-ins, robbery, cars thefts and unlawful use of motor vehicles over the past decade.
However, he said there had been an increase in assaults - not at pubs and clubs - but in the home with the majority of assaults occurring between people who know each other in domestic settings.
Youth crime was also on the decline, reducing dramatically in Redlands over the past three years, but still "some kids were falling through the cracks".
Ms Scanlon said schools played an important role in early intervention and as part of the reforms would have officers trained to work with primary schools.
Sheldon College outgoing principal Lyn Bishop told the crowd parents needed to take more responsibility.
"Consistently schools are being asked to pick up the social agenda and very often they don't have the resourcing to be able or the necessary training and development to do that," Dr Bishop said.
Originally published as Top cop forum tackles youth crime