Putting community safety first with tougher action on youth crime and its causes

Published Tuesday, 21 February, 2023 at 12:15 PM


Premier and Minister for the Olympic and Paralympic Games
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Minister for Police and Corrective Services and Minister for Fire and Emergency Services
The Honourable Mark Ryan

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

  • Tough new laws to target serious repeat offenders
  • Introduction of breach of bail for young offenders for first time this century
  • More than $100 million extra invested in diversion and rehabilitation
  • Targeted investment in community safety

It will be harder for serious repeat offenders to get bail and there will be even more investment in tackling the complex causes of youth crime, the Palaszczuk Government will announce today.

The tough new laws and increased investment follows careful consideration by the Palaszczuk Government and are based in evidence and follow feedback from the community, police and other stakeholders.

The new investment of $332 million will also help boost police resources, tackle the complex causes of youth crime and support community safety.

That includes a significant funding boost for the Queensland Police Service including a new $25 million injection for high visibility police patrols and $17 million for expanded joint flying squads.

1. Targeting serious repeat offenders

The vast majority of young people who come into contact with the Youth Justice System do not offend again following diversionary and rehabilitation programs.

For the 17 per cent of young offenders who are committing 50 per cent of crimes, more measures will be put in place. 

Further significant action to target these serious repeat offenders posing a threat to community safety include:

  • Breach of Bail: For the first time this century breaching bail conditions for young offenders will be an offence in Queensland.
  • Strengthening conditional release orders: extending the maximum period from 3 months to 6 months. Repeat offenders will also serve their suspended term in detention if they breach a condition. This will help maximise the opportunity for offenders to complete rehabilitation programs.
  • New declaration of serious repeat offenders: The Youth Justice Act will be amended to declare certain offenders as ‘serious repeat offenders’, meaning tougher sentencing principles to protect community safety must be applied.
  • Requiring offences of unlawful use of a motor vehicle with circumstances of aggravation of violence or threatened violence to be heard by a District Court Judge
  • Expanding the number of offences with a presumption against bail: people who are passengers in stolen vehicles, commit burglary or enter a premise to commit an indictable offence will now have a presumption against bail.
  • clarifying that police do not need to consider alternatives to arrest if a young person contravenes or is likely to contravene a bail condition
  • Increasing Youth Detention Capacity: Building on the 33% increase to youth detention centre capacity already delivered, the Government will build two new therapeutic youth detention centres, while also looking at a range of interim options to increase capacity. In addition, 18 year olds currently serving sentences in youth detention centres will be moved to adult prisons.

This builds on proposed laws announced in December 2022, including:

  • Increasing the maximum penalty for unlawful use of a motor vehicle from 7 years to 10 years’ imprisonment
  • A more severe penalty of 14 years if the offence is committed at night, where the offender uses violence or threatens violence, is armed or pretends to be armed, is in company or damages or threatens to damage any property
  • Amending the Youth Justice Act requiring courts to take into account previous bail history, criminal activity and track record when sentencing
  • Increased penalties for criminals who have boasted about these crimes on social media

2. Tackling the complex causes of youth crime

While we target these serious high-risk offenders, we’ll continue to fight the complex causes of youth crime.

To help break this destructive cycle, we will take action and invest over $100 million in additional funds into programs proven to make a difference. 

  • Expansion of Intensive Case Management: Already operational in Townsville and Cairns, intensive case management targets chronic young offenders aged 13 to 17 years, and their families, to help break the cycle of crime. This initative will now be expanded to Brisbane, Logan Toowoomba, Moreton, Gold Coast, Rockhampton and Ipswich.
  • Expansion of Youth Co-responder Teams: Dedicated teams of police and youth justice workers will provide a rapid response targeting young people at risk of offending and young people on bail. Already operational in many parts of Queensland, this proven initiative has already completed 40,000 engagements with young people including to check their compliance with bail conditions and follow up to ensure they are accessing the right services. This service will be expanded into Toowoomba, Hervey Bay, Mount Isa, Ipswich and South Brisbane.
  • Expansion of the Stronger Communities initiative:Currently operating in Townsville with early positive outcomes, these early action groups bring together Police and other key Government representatives to provide intensive coordination of services to young people aged 8- 16 years who are at risk of falling into a cycle of crime. This initiative will now be rolled out in Mount Isa and Cairns.
  • Further investment of $4 million in On Country programs, providing culture based rehabilitation for young First Nations peoples including supervision by on Country Elders
  • More investment in grassroots early intervention: We’ll invest in more community-based initiatives targeting at-risk youth to provide recreational, learning, mentoring and drug and alcohol support to help break the cycle of offending. This investment includes $4.22m into the Townsville Street University and $1.5 million for Cairns Midnight Basketball.  

These new initiatives build on the $800 million investment the Government has already made in responding to youth crime and tackling its complex causes to help break the cycle of offending for the future.

3. Supporting community safety

The Premier has been clear that community safety must always come first. That’s why the Government will do more to assist Queenslanders with crime prevention and providing support to victims.

  • Expanded joint flying squads: $17 million is being invested for expert youth justice workers to partner with QPS in targeting high risk youth offending, providing specialist support and supplementing local resources across the State. The squad will work with key agencies on the ground including health, education, disability services and First Nations initiatives.
  • Helping seniors secure their homes: A new $15 million initiative will be trialled in three locations across Queensland to help senior citizens with the cost of securing their homes. It will help subsidise practical home security improvements, such as strengthening window locks and shutters, addressing design issues that enable ease of access and installing CCTV cameras.
  • Vehicle immobilisers: $10 million will be provided in a trial to help subsidise the cost for Queenslanders to install vehicle immobilisers in Cairns, Townsville and Mount Isa. The trial will commence by mid 2023
  • Enhanced assistance for victims of crime, with a $9 million investment to respond better to victims of property crime where violence or a threat of violence has occurred, including $3 million to boost counselling capacity and support NGOs – building on the existing Victim Assist service

We continue to boost the capacity for the Queensland Police Service to tackle youth crime and keep the community safe, including a new $25 million injection to high visibility police patrols and proactive policing, including through social media monitoring and engagement.

High visibility policy patrols are targeting the places and times these offences are most likely to occur. In December alone this approach resulted in over 800 additional arrests.

There are now more police in Queensland than ever before — more than 12,000 officers. Our police are well trained and well-equipped. We continue to provide them with the latest technology available.

Quotes attributable to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk:

“We have listened to the community. This action is all about putting community safety first.

“We will use the full force of the law to target the small cohort of serious repeat offenders that currently pose a threat to community safety.

When these kids reoffend time and again, we need the police to catch them. And we need the courts to do their job.

“They have the resources. They have the laws. They have the tools.

“Importantly, they have this government’s full support to keep our community safe."

Media Contacts

Premier: Chris Taylor 0473 336 110

Minister Ryan: Phil Wilmington 0411 535 180

Minister Linnard: Scott Chandler 0409 472 893