Deanne Schloss, a corrective services officer with a GPS Tracker. Pic Annette Dew
Deanne Schloss, a corrective services officer with a GPS Tracker. Pic Annette Dew

Tough new laws to target CQ’s repeat youth offenders

Repeat youth offenders across Central Queensland are staring down the barrel of tough new laws including GPS tracking, anti-hooning and stringent bail conditions aimed at stamping out a teenage crime wave.

The changes will also require Central Queensland parents to be more responsible for their child’s behaviour, assuring the court they will police their child’s adherence to bail conditions if they are released.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the reforms on Tuesday following a marathon cabinet meeting prompted by widespread public outcry.

Community outrage followed the tragic deaths of expectant parents Matthew Field and Kate Leadbetter, then last week’s loss of Jennifer Board in Townsville.

All of the four deaths involved repeat offenders who had been released on bail.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (centre), flanked by (L to R) Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll, Police Minister Mark Ryan and Assistant Commissioner Cheryl Scanlon, speaks during a press conference in Brisbane. Ms Palaszczuk announced the establishment of a new Youth Crime Taskforce. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (centre), flanked by (L to R) Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll, Police Minister Mark Ryan and Assistant Commissioner Cheryl Scanlon, speaks during a press conference in Brisbane. Ms Palaszczuk announced the establishment of a new Youth Crime Taskforce. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

Ms Palaszczuk said the loss of four innocent lives linked to a spate of senseless crimes would not go unanswered.

“It is clear to me and to the community that some young offenders simply don’t care about consequences,” she said.

“Today is about targeting these repeat offenders — this 10 per cent — to keep the community safe.”

Parents will also be required to front court with their children to demonstrate they can provide adequate supervision if bail is granted.

Assistant Police Commissioner Cheryl Scanlon will head a new youth crime task force, providing weekly updates to Police Minister Mark Ryan.

Former police commissioner Bob Atkinson returns to evaluate the measures over the next six months.

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The changes include:

  • A presumption against bail in serious indictable offence cases including break-and-enter and armed robbery.
  • The Youth Justice Act to be amended adding a reference to the community being protected from repeat youth offenders in the Charter of Youth Justice Principles.
  • Courts to seek assurances from parents the offender will adhere to bail conditions.
  • GPS trackers can be issued by court in bail applications for 16 and 17-year-olds in trial areas.
  • Hand held metal detectors to check for knives to be provided to Gold Coast police.
  • Anti-hooning laws strengthened to deem the registered owner of a vehicle responsible unless another person was driving or the vehicle was stolen.
  • A Parliamentary Inquiry into the implementation of remote engine immobilisers.

GPS tracking device trials will be held in Moreton, North Brisbane, Townsville, Logan and the Gold Coast.

Queensland Government gets tough on youth crime.
Queensland Government gets tough on youth crime.

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the changes were welcomed.

“Youth offending and the amount of youth offenders have actually decreased dramatically over the years — it’s this small cohort of 10 per cent that needs to be dealt with,” she said.

Police Minister Mark Ryan said young offenders needed to learn the consequences of their actions.

“This is about targeting the hardcore repeat offenders – those 10 per cent of youth offenders who are frequently putting the community at risk,” he said.

“We must stop young hardcore offenders being let out on bail and reoffending the next day. “That is why we are making these changes to bail laws.

“Ten per cent of all youth offenders account for 48 per cent of all youth crime (according to a Children’s Court of Queensland annual report).

“It is this group we will target with all the force and resources at our disposal.”

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