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Qld cabbies using scanners to avoid crooks

A senior Queensland police officer says it is not ideal taxi drivers are using police scanners to avoid stolen cars in the state’s north, more than a year into a crackdown on youth crime.

AAP understands a number of evening taxi drivers in Townsville use police scanners to monitor where stolen vehicles are across the city, then inform fellow drivers via social media or text.

Speaking anonymously to AAP, one cabbie said he avoided an accident over the weekend by moving away from an intersection after hearing the route of a stolen car over the scanner.

“Had I not done that I could’ve been t-boned there and then,” he said.

“Its not for fun, it’s about our safety, mate.”

Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Wheeler said he wasn’t aware of taxi drivers using police scanners in the city, but he encouraged people to report stolen vehicles.

“A taxi driver having to do that is not ideal,” Mr Wheeler said on Thursday.

“But what I’d say is that when we get that information we act on it very quickly. We respond as quickly as we can.”

In March, youth-dominated crimes surged to their highest levels since the government’s crackdown began in April 2021.

In the same month, Townsville experienced an average of 10 homes and businesses broken into every day, and two cars stolen.

The Youth Justice Act amendment, introduced in April 2021, included a presumption against bail for youths for certain offences.

Queensland magistrates were also granted rights to issue electronic monitoring devices to repeat offenders aged 16 and 17 as a condition of bail across the LGAs of Townsville, North Brisbane, Moreton, Logan and the Gold Coast.

To be fitted, teens must be charged with a serious offence and have previously been convicted of a serious offence.

Police Minister Mark Ryan said on Thursday the government continues to engage with key stakeholders since the laws were passed, and the government regularly monitors the reforms.

On GPS tracking devices, Mr Ryan said the courts have preferred to hold recidivist offenders in custody, which has led to disruptions to their offending.

In instances where the electronic devices have been issued, he said there were “about half a dozen” in use, which has seen some success around bail compliance.

But Member for Traeger Rob Katter said taxi drivers using police scanners for safety spoke volumes of the state’s youth crime issue.

“It’s not even about the frequency. It’s about the intensity – people are scared,” he said.

“People in the normal course of business are taking extraordinary action to try to mitigate the threat of violence and crime.”

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