‘We’re not babysitters’: Cops want GPS trackers on kid crims


Juvenile delinquents on bail should be fitted with GPS trackers and immobilisers made mandatory in cars according to frustrated police, as top brass launched an extraordinary broadside at parents using cops as "babysitters".

A day after Commissioner Katarina Carroll announced police would be taking their ideas for law reform to the Palaszczuk Government, Police Union president Ian Leavers said fitting youth on bail with GPS trackers could help stem the state's youth crime crisis overnight.

"Strengthening youth bail laws and increasing prison sentences will work," Mr Leavers wrote in a powerful opinion piece in The Courier-Mail.

"Real legislative change is needed."

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers. Picture Glenn Hampson
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers. Picture Glenn Hampson

But he said solutions also included more resourcing for police and the child safety department - which oversaw 13,000 children but lacked the ability to "handle this crisis" -

He said a National Youth Crime Summit was needed, as well as honest conversations around the "taboo" topic of why offenders were "overwhelmingly indigenous".

It came as Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Taylor vented his frustration with guardians who weren't taking responsibility for children who were out all night and skipping school.

"It's a tragedy that you've got 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15-year-old kids out all hours of the night. No guardianship whatsoever," he said.

Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Taylor in Townsville. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Taylor in Townsville. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Mr Taylor said mothers, fathers and guardians should be asking: "Where's my son, daughter at 2, 3, 4 in the morning?"

"What I'm asking people to do, if you're a guardian of a young person, show the love before the tragedy, take an interest in where the kid is, and make sure they're at home," he said.

"Police are not babysitters."

"Police are running around chasing these kids when they should be home in bed, getting up early and going to school and getting an education."

Meanwhile, Mr Leavers levelled a stinging rebuke to those offering political "sound bites" but no solutions, and said the Police Union would not enter into a "half-baked debate on youth crime to fuel outrage".

Teens caught on CCTV breaking into a vehicle in Townsville.
Teens caught on CCTV breaking into a vehicle in Townsville.

Instead, he revealed he is writing to all states and territories, their respective police commissioners, unions and associations to request a summit of ideas.

But he said that debate needed to be an honest one that dealt with the "elephant in the room that the woke, politically correct brigade will never acknowledge".

And that was that "juvenile offenders in Queensland are overwhelmingly indigenous".

"There is something deeply dysfunctional with indigenous communities all over Queensland that sees indigenous juveniles subjected to horrific physical and emotional abuse from a young age and they then go on to perpetuate this abuse in a never-ending intergenerational cycle," Mr Leavers said.

"We can pretend it doesn't exist or we can do something about it."

Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard admitted youth crime was "absolutely appalling" in her first media conference since last week's hit-and-run deaths of Kate Leadbetter, Matty Field and their unborn son Miles.



Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard Picture: Alix Sweeney
Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard Picture: Alix Sweeney



It came as it was revealed her youth justice department had been quietly wrapped back into the child safety department, despite Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk appointing former Deputy Commissioner Bob Gee to oversee that stand-alone department in 2019 to "fix" youth crime issues.

Standing beside local Townsville MP Les Walker, who was recently fined for public nuisance and issued a banning notice following a bar fight, Ms Linard said she would look at "good, evidence based ideas" to promote community safety.

However, she declared mandatory sentencing "does not work".

"But we'll listen to all suggestions. We are listening," she said.

Acting Premier Steven Miles said he recognised there had been "failings" with the state's approach to youth crime, and that a number of incidents "frankly shouldn't have happened".

Mr Miles said there was no "simple answer" to stopping Queensland's troubled youth from reoffending at a high rate.

He said he had taken comments by Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll that laws needed to be beefed up around young offenders very seriously.

The Government has previously ruled out using GPS technology on children on remand, despite former police commissioner Bob Atkinson recommending it be considered when he led a 2018 youth justice review.



Originally published as 'We're not babysitters': Cops want GPS trackers on kid crims