Townsville co-responder teams helping to break youth crime cycle

Published Thursday, 19 May, 2022 at 03:26 PM

Minister for Children and Youth Justice and Minister for Multicultural Affairs
The Honourable Leanne Linard

A crime prevention initiative that has brought together two dedicated teams of police and youth justice workers to patrol the streets of Townsville this week marked two years of operation.

The city’s co responder teams operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week to improve community safety by riding together in specially marked vehicles and engaging with at-risk youth and young people on court orders. 

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the Palaszczuk Government began rolling out the joint police and youth justice co-responder program in May 2020 as part of a commitment to reduce youth crime. 

“Ensuring agencies are working together to engage young people is important and that’s what this co-responder team is about,” Mr Stewart said.

“In all, we have eight co-responder teams in the state, connecting and communicating with young people.”

Member for Mundingburra Les Walker said anything we do to tackle youth crime also needs to consider the causes of crime, which is exactly what the co-responders are doing.

“As a government, we expanded the service to two in Townsville last year as we’ve seen great results from it,” Mr Walker said.

“Early intervention is essential to breaking the cycle of crime and having police officers and youth justice staff working together is an important tool to do this.”

Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said a multi-faceted approach was important in breaking the cycle of youth offending. 

“The Palaszczuk Government has invested $43.2 million in delivering youth justice programs and from 2021-2023 we’re investing more than $17.3 million in programs and services responding to youth crime. 

“We’re delivering services like the two co-responder teams as well as the successful Transition to Success and Project Booyah programs

Minister for Children and Youth Justice, Leanne Linard, said since the first team started in Townsville in May 2020 and the second team in July 2021, the co-responders had engaged young people nearly 7500 times.

“We know that stopping crime before it occurs is the most effective way to break the cycle of youth offending, which is why the co-responder teams are so important,” Ms Linard said.

“This is why they speak with young people at the local park or shopping centre, on the street and in their homes, so they don’t have to meet them in the courthouse or the watchhouse.

“Their work includes checking on young offenders to ensure they’re complying with their bail conditions.”

Youth co-responder team leader, Kym Musumeci, said the teams patrol all Townsville suburbs, with a focus on areas where young people congregate. 

“Every time a co-responder engages with a young person, it’s an opportunity to check on their welfare and steer them away from poor choices,” she said.

“For example, if young people are gathering in groups and engaging in anti-social behaviour in public spaces, we’ll stop that situation by taking them home or to a safe place. 

“And as we get to know young individuals, we’re in a good position to refer them to services where needed, such as family and youth support.”

Acting Assistant Commissioner Craig Hanlon said the youth co-responder program was a fantastic opportunity for police and youth justice workers to connect with young people, build relationships and refer them to support services when they need them. 
 
“We know every interaction a young person has with the co-responder team is an opportunity to build trust and find out what is happening in their lives and if they need extra support,” Acting Assistance Commissioner Hanlon said. 
 
“By building relationships with at-risk young people, our youth co-responder team are better able to identify, address and provide support to the young people and their families.
 
“They also work with high-risk youth on bail and curfew conditions, to assist them with complying with bail conditions, reengaging with education, community and family.” 

The 2021–22 budget allocated $11.9 million for the co-responder initiative.

Co-responder teams also operate in Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton, Moreton, Brisbane North, Logan, and the Gold Coast.

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Media contact: Catherine Baker, Senior Media Advisor, tel: 0498 844 783