Queensland Opposition's youth justice policy will compound crime issue

Queensland Opposition’s "adult crime, adult time" sentencing policy risks demonising troubled children, and young people, who need more support to get their lives back on track, and ultimately will not make Queenslanders safer, QLS President Rebecca Fogerty says.

“QLS has always supported evidence-based measures that enhance community safety. All Queenslanders have a right to be and feel safe in our community and we deserve well-considered and effective solutions to address the complexities of crime.”

Just last week the Queensland Audit Office (QAO) released a major independent audit of the effectiveness of reducing serious youth crime, noting that: 

  1. Youth crime is a complex problem
  2. The underlying causes of youth crime are multi-faceted
  3. Many young offenders have poor health, including mental health issues and behavioural disorders; many are disengaged from education and employment
  4. A whole-of-system approach is needed to address this complex problem
  5. Young offenders who are in detention are not always getting the rehabilitation or education they need to address their offending behaviour. This is partly due to Queensland’s youth detention centres often being locked down because of staff shortages, safety incidents, and other factors.

“Calling for longer sentences in a struggling detention system will not fix the problem of youth crime. It will lead to more overcrowding, more violence, more lockdowns, less education and less rehabilitation. This will compound the issues we know give rise to serious repeat offending,” President Fogerty said.

“Increased penalties do not deter criminal behaviour. Research shows that punishment and imprisonment fails to deter and, in fact, increases crime. It is evident tough on crime policies have created a growing cohort of serious repeat youth offenders, who are getting more disengaged with the community. Rehabilitation in and outside of detention is the only way to get their lives back on track.

“QLS is calling on all parties in the upcoming election to not treat children and young people as a political football, but as the QAO recommended, focusing on a whole-of-system approach to address this complex problem,” President Fogerty said.