A Townsville leader has called for cash bail and GPS trackers for serious, repeat offenders over the age of criminal responsibility to help combat youth crime.
A Townsville leader has called for cash bail and GPS trackers for serious, repeat offenders over the age of criminal responsibility to help combat youth crime.

Mayor’s radical proposal to combat youth crime

THE Townsville mayor has called for cash bail and GPS trackers for serious, repeat offenders over the age of criminal responsibility to help combat the city's systemic youth crime problem.

Mayor Jenny Hill put forward the ideas to the inquiry into the new Youth Justice legislation in Townsville last month.

The report into the proposed legislation is due to be handed to government today.

Mayor of Townsville Jenny Hill, in front of Townsville's iconic Castle Hill. Photographer: Liam Kidston.
Mayor of Townsville Jenny Hill, in front of Townsville's iconic Castle Hill. Photographer: Liam Kidston.

Cr Hill, whose role in local council has no jurisdiction over crime, spoke as both a city leader and a resident "fed up with the system that is letting down our community".

In her submission, Cr Hill said she acknowledged that there were elements of the bill that were a "positive step forward" but said the reforms fell short.

"I welcome the government's proposal to require the fitting of GPS trackers to recidivist high-risk offenders aged 16-19," Cr Hill said.

"I urge the government to expand this requirement to younger recidivist high-risk offenders who are above the age of criminal responsibility."

The current age of criminal responsibility is 10.

Cr Hill said the government should also consider adding additional prescribed offences and enforcing cash bail on youth offenders.

"The proposed inclusion of the offences of breaking and entering, serious sexual assault, and armed robbery are welcomed as prescribed offences, but I would suggest that charges of unlawful use of a motor vehicle and dangerous operation of motor vehicle should also be included," Cr Hill said.

"I doubt the effectiveness of the proposal to seek assurances from a responsible adult that bail conditions will be complied with before the release of an offender.

"Many parents and/or guardians of youth offenders are already known to Queensland government agencies, including the Queensland Police Service, and this would conflict with the proposed changes in focus of the Charter of Youth Justice Principles to be focused on community safety.

"I propose an alternative of requiring the enforcement of cash bail on youth offenders where parents and/or guardians are contactable."

The Mayor also called for more guidance for magistrates or judges when making a decision on bail.

She said this could be done by adding a definition of a "serious risk to the community".

Cr Hill said while it was not being considered as part of this bill, the government should consider adding a new social media clause to the criminal code.

She said people older than 18 often use social media to encourage criminal activity.

"I recommend the implementation of a reform to the Criminal Code to strengthen offence and penalty provisions for adults who encourage people under 18 to commit offences," Cr Hill said.

"There is anecdotal evidence that some youth offenders commit these crimes because they are told it is part of some rite of passage.

"That's not acceptable in our community, and the law should reflect that." 

 

 

 

caitlan.charles@news.com.au

Originally published as Mayor's radical proposal to combat youth crime