Townsville Crime Commitee members Antia Manwaring and Wendy Ambrose
Townsville Crime Commitee members Antia Manwaring and Wendy Ambrose

Tensions rise at crime forum pushing for youth law changes

Remand centres and more succinct youth bail laws are among the ideas frustrated Townsville residents put forward for LNP candidates to take to their leader at a crime forum where tensions rose.

About 30 people, flanked by all LNP candidates and Federal MP Phillip Thompson, were invited on Tuesday night to air their concerns and questions, with most residents taking aim at child offenders and legislation.

The crowd was small in comparison to other crime forums with top brass Labor ministers held in February, but the same issues were raised.

A resident who runs a social media crime page pitched the idea of remand centres in regional areas to prevent children being sent to either Townsville or Brisbane detention centres while awaiting their court date.

The man said a similar concept would stop youth offenders travelling to the area unnecessarily, building criminal relationships while in custody and being let out on the streets with no transport home.

Opposition spokesman for Attorney-General David Janetzki said the centres were a "good idea" and he would take it on board.

David Janetzki MP. Photographer: Liam Kidston
David Janetzki MP. Photographer: Liam Kidston

The civilised event was not without blatant racism, with the same resident raising issues about car chases and saying he was not upset about the deaths of four teenagers in an alleged stolen car crash in June.

He said "nobody stops them", although strict chase laws prevent police from pursuing at the risk of a death in custody or other deaths.

"(Police) chasing makes them dangerous is a crock of s---," the man said.

Opposition spokesman for Police Dan Purdie said it was disappointing to hear that opinion, but acknowledged it was a significant sign of frustration with youth crime among the community.

LNP Shadow Police Minister Dan Purdie. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
LNP Shadow Police Minister Dan Purdie. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

Townsville Crime Committee member Wendy Ambrose confronted the duo about clarifying the definition of an "unacceptable risk" in the newly amended Youth Justice Act.

Ms Ambrose had reached out to Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath about defining the new amendment, but she forwarded the questions to Youth Justice Minister Di Farmer who was yet to respond.

Townsville Crime Commitee members Antia Manwaring and Wendy Ambrose
Townsville Crime Commitee members Antia Manwaring and Wendy Ambrose

Mr Janetzki said if elected, his government would clarify the definition and make it clear when an offender should be put behind bars instead of leaving it up to a magistrate.

The LNP announced their crime plan earlier this month with a string of promises, including a three-strike policy.

LNP candidate for Hinchinbrook Scott Piper said he received community feedback this was unclear.

Mr Purdie said while it was still being ironed out, the strikes would relate to serious or repeated offending.

Mr Janetzki and Mr Purdie were on a whirlwind "law and order" tour of the state ahead of the election.

Originally published as Tensions rise at crime forum pushing for youth law changes


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