Government’s new youth justice proposals won’t address underlying causes of crime

The Queensland Law Society is deeply concerned by the Queensland Government’s proposal to remove the principle of “detention as a punishment of last resort”.

 “The new provision will result in more children being placed in watch houses, which are already at capacity,” QLS President Rebecca Fogerty said. “The change will lead to more children being sentenced to detention, which will not address the underlying causes of crime”.

“We welcome the acknowledgement from the Government that youth crime is complex, with ripple effects throughout the community, requiring a multi-disciplinary approach through social services, education, work and health accessibility”.

“However, if simply locking up children and young people made the community safer, Queensland would have one of the lowest youth crime rates in the country. Queensland incarcerates more young people than any other state in Australia,” President Fogerty said.

 “While detention is needed in serious cases, leadership is required to address the root causes. The answer does not lie in harsher penalties or creating new offences. Our highly trained judges and magistrates are best placed to balance the rights of victims and children and there are already circumstances where community safety overrides the rights of the child,” President Fogerty said.