Police manhunt
Police manhunt

Qld Govt ‘backflips’ on Youth Justice Act

THE new Youth Justice Act will be changed despite Police Minister Mark Ryan saying the State Government believed the laws were clear.

Last week Mr Ryan took aim at the courts, claiming they weren't properly locking up young criminals.

In state parliament yesterday Youth Justice Minister Di Farmer said the government had made a decision to amend the laws relating to youth bail.

"We have detailed our response and said clearly that the government and the community expects that those who are a risk to community safety should be denied bail," she said.

"There is a perception in the community that the legislation as it stands is not clear.

"We want to ensure that it is crystal clear. If a young person is an unacceptable risk to the safety of the community or the safety or welfare of a person they must be kept in custody."

Ms Farmer said the government would "simplify and strengthen the law" so there was no doubt in people's mind that their safety came first.

The amendments to the Youth Justice Act came into effect in December,

Last month the Townsville Bulletin reported police and lawyers believed the new laws were making it harder to hold kids in custody.

LNP Northern Queensland spokesman Dale Last said it was a "stunning backflip" from the government.

The State Government has made a number of pledges to tackle Townsville's youth crime crisis.

This includes letting courts and police be able to refer young recidivist offenders to an on-country program targeting indigenous offenders and those who don't have stable homes.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said Labor's changes were an "admission that its reforms had fuelled Queensland's crime wave".

"Labor removed breach of bail from the criminal code for juveniles and then introduced 'catch and release' laws to keep offenders on the streets," she said.

Ms Farmer said the changes were aimed at repeat and prolific young offenders.

"Ten per cent of our young offenders are committing 44 per cent of the offences," she said.

"We are aiming our initiatives quite specifically at those young people.

"They need to know and the community needs to know that community safety comes first."

One Community One Standard leader Jeff Adams said changing the laws was a good first step but more needed to be done.

"What we have always advocated for is we need all three levels of government to come together and sort this out in the long-term and get generation change underway," he said.