Victims welcome laws to combat youth crime

 

Crime victims and prevention groups have welcomed new laws set to crack down on repeat youth offenders following public campaigns to combat rising crime rates across the region.

The State Government yesterday introduced changes to the Youth Justice Act in parliament to ensure that recidivist offenders are denied bail.

It comes after the death of four Townsville teenagers earlier this month.

In August 2019, legislation was passed to encourage detention as a last resort as part of the government's historic $550 million youth justice reform agenda.

Dundees Cairns Aquarium manager Tina Wort shows LNP Cairns electorate candidate Sam Marino (left) and deputy LNP leader Tim Mander extra security measures to keep thieves out of the Florence St business. Picture: PETER CARRUTHERS
Dundees Cairns Aquarium manager Tina Wort shows LNP Cairns electorate candidate Sam Marino (left) and deputy LNP leader Tim Mander extra security measures to keep thieves out of the Florence St business. Picture: PETER CARRUTHERS

Tina Wort, manager of Dundee's Cairns Aquarium, said the changes were positive after the restaurant was targeted by thieves seven times in the 10 months to February 2019, resulting in thousands of dollars worth of damage and about $7000 in stock losses.

"It definitely would've helped at the time (of the thefts) because some of them may have been repeat offenders," Ms Wort said.

"With the new laws, all we can do is hope and pray we're on the right path."

Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said Labor has been "dragged kicking and screaming to finally amend their catch and release laws".

"I would give police tough laws like breach of bail to keep young offenders off our streets."

Crime and Justice Action Group spokesman Aaron McLeod said the tightening of juvenile justice laws would "certainly reduce the most lethal and most dangerous offending by young people".

"But there needs to be a significant remodelling of the current legislation because residents, certainly in our group, have acknowledged that they don't want to be considered victims on equal terms (with accused people)," he said.

Asked about the opposition leader's plan to overhaul child safety, he said: "This may just mean more resources to a child safety department that already exists; we need a proper specialist unit to conduct investigations quickly".

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has conceded the state needs to "do better" about child safety, saying more children will be taken from irresponsible parents and promising to work with the LNP to reform the system.

She also said more police and health professionals were needed to work in child safety.

Originally published as Victims welcome law change to combat repeat young offenders


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