Tough on crime election platform ‘blatantly stupid’: Lawyers


THE Territory Opposition has been unable to produce any evidence that its tough-on-crime election platform will actually reduce offending, with the policy slammed by lawyers as "blatantly stupid".

The Country Liberal Party leader Lia Finocchiaro recently announced a plan to reverse the "watering down of penalties for youth offenders" as part of a six-pronged approach to tackling crime and making communities safer.

A CLP spokesman said the plan's key tenets involved shifting responsibility for youth justice from Territory Families back to Corrections, reinstating breach of bail offences for youths and making it harder for youth offenders to get bail in the first place.

But when asked what evidence the party relied on to support the policy, the spokesman declined to produce any, citing only "huge concern" among voters.

"The CLP has a commitment to support our police to keep the community safe," he said. "Property crime in particular has escalated under Labor and youth crime is of huge concern right across the Territory."

Despite the lack of evidence, the spokesman said the changes would reduce crime and "provide custodial oversight and create synergies in cost savings measures".

"Territorians will judge us on the outcomes our measures achieve, namely that there is a reduction in crime and repeat offending," he said.

But Criminal Lawyers Association of the NT president Marty Aust said the proposed changes were "retrograde steps that were proven, by evidence-based research, to be both ineffective and potentially dangerous steps in tackling and reducing youth crime".

Mr Aust said the party's platform was akin to a health policy that promoted smoking.

"We know based on expert medical evidence that smoking cannot improve health outcomes and in the long run will kill (people)," he said.

"We also know that a non-specialist corrections based system, that is punitive, that encourages charging youths and promotes the incarceration and over criminalisation of at-risk youths, actually leads to recidivism and increased criminal behaviours as opposed to needs-based rehabilitation and diversion that can reduce crime rates and lead to a safer community."

Mr Aust said that CLANT also wanted to see crime rates fall and while some youth offenders deserved to be locked up, the majority should face diversion and that call was one that should be left to the courts.

He said the policies "fly in the face" of the recommendations of the NT Royal Commission.

But the CLP spokesman said while the party supported those recommendations, they "need to be put through a Territory context and implemented appropriately".

Originally published as Tough on crime election platform 'blatantly stupid': Lawyers