Townsville Bulletin

New youth crime plan


EVERY hardcore juvenile offender in Queensland will be put on a tailored plan to stop their cycle of crime

Assistant Commission­er Cheryl Scanlon said the next phase of the Youth Justice Taskforce’s battle against youth crime would involve diving into the lives, histories and traumas of each child on their exit from detention, and try to turn their lives around.

Representa­tives from multiple agencies, including education, housing, police and Aboriginal issues, would pick apart the cases of each child in the top 10 per cent of juvenile offenders to implement a plan to help them.

“This must be about intervenin­g early, keeping kids out of court, keeping kids out of custody and reducing reoffendin­g,” Ms Scanlon said.

“This will be the new business as usual, and the intensity that will be required to examine the root causes of crime for these young people in that top 10 per cent cohort.”

The tailored plans will see multiagenc­y representa­tives create a specific plan for each child, and then convene at least monthly to check-in on progress.

The individual help would continue until the end of their court-ordered punishment.

Ms Scanlon said this was her hardest challenge yet.

“I often say this is a marathon, it’s not a sprint, because we are talking about children who really have very complex and difficult background­s and are very, very difficult to work with.

“It really is seriously hard work. And we won’t be successful with all these children … the sad reality for those young people is they’re going to continue to be involved in crime.

“And in all likelihood … they’re heading to adult prison.”

Ms Scanlon was announced as the lead on the new taskforce in February, after the state government created new laws to keep repeat child criminals in custody.

Those laws included a presumptio­n against bail and the ability for a court to seek assurances from parents or guardians, which has led to 100 more juveniles being held in custody than the same time last year.

Youth Justice Department senior executive director Michael Drane said those results were great, but this new plan was “where the rubber hit the road” in addressing youth crime.

“This is about really working with each distinct young person and having a formal plan around them,” Mr Drane said.

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