Parental supervision, changing breach of bail laws and trialling a police pursuit policy have been underscored as Townsville becomes the centre of Queensland’s debate on youth justice.
Several police officers were injured when pursuing teens in an allegedly stolen car in the north Queensland city on Saturday.
The incident followed the death of a couple and their unborn child near Brisbane, allegedly by a 17-year-old in a stolen car on Tuesday.
“If you’re a guardian of a young person, show the love before the tragedy, take an interest in where your kid is and make sure they’re at home,” Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Taylor told reporters on Monday.
“Police are not babysitters. Police are running around chasing these kids when they should be home in bed.”
Of all the young people who commit offences, Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard said about 85 per cent would have a one-off encounter with the system.
She said there was a “hardcore” group of offenders who engaged in repeat behaviour that needed to be addressed.
“We strengthened the bail laws last year and the purpose of that was to make sure that if a young person is an unacceptable risk to community safety, then we expect our magistrates will keep that person on remand. So put simply, they don’t get bail,” she said.
Earlier, changes to Queensland’s breach of bail laws and the police pursuit policy were flagged by the opposition.
“First and foremost breach of bail must come back, if you’re released on bail then that’s a privilege, it’s not a right,” shadow police minister Dale Last told reporters in Townsville on Monday.
“The fact that we don’t have that as an offence anymore gives these kids carte blanche to go out there, thumb their noses at the law and continue on their merry way.”
He described the police pursuit policy as a “very fine line” between apprehending offenders and potentially putting members of the community at risk.
“We are open to the idea of reintroducing a trial of pursuit policy, but when you have kids stealing cars and doing burnouts in a police station car park, then that has to be the last straw,” he said.
Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll has described her frustration in trying to manage a small group of repeat offenders.
“We definitely know who they are,” she told reporters on Sunday.
“Whether it’s Townsville or anywhere else, I can tell you that the police are doing the right thing.”