Young offenders face being named in new justice reforms

REPEAT young offenders face being named and shamed and a new offence for breaching bail will be legislated under reforms that will strengthen Queensland's youth justice system.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said the community had told the Newman Government loud and clear it was sick of the revolving door of repeat offending.

"Our reforms are tough but necessary," Mr Bleijie said.

"The former Labor Government's slap on the wrist approach has left Queensland with a generation of arrogant recidivist young offenders.

"In the past year, 400 young people have been charged with more than 7000 offences while on bail.

That is unacceptable and we have to turn it around.

"Under these reforms, the identities of repeat offenders will be allowed to be published, making them more accountable for their actions and setting a strong deterrent for further offending.

"Some reporting restrictions will remain. Publishing the identities of first time offenders will continue to be prohibited and the Court will have the discretion to close certain proceedings.

"Kids can make mistakes. That's why we are still giving them a chance to clean up their act but there should be consequences if they don't learn their lesson.

"We are balancing the scales of justice by making repeat offenders more accountable but allowing first time offenders to get back on the straight and narrow.

"This will send a strong message to young offenders and provide the public with a better understanding of the Childrens Court's processes."

Mr Bleijie said a new offence for breaching bail would also be created under the Youth Justice Act 1992.

"This offence will carry a maximum one year's detention," he said.

"When people are released on bail, they make a promise to the court to abide by their conditions and obey the law.

"A specific breach of bail offence targets the repeat offenders and makes them accountable for breaking that promise."

Other reforms include:

  • Making all juvenile criminal histories available in adult courts to give a Magistrate or Judge a complete understanding of a defendant's history
  • Removing detention as a last resort to give the court more discretion during sentencing
  • Transferring juvenile offenders to adult correctional centres when they reach 17 years of age if they have six or more months of their sentence remaining

"These amendments allow authorities to respond quickly and effectively to serious and repeat offenders while ensuring at-risk young people are diverted away from the system through early intervention and reintegration into the community," he said.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart welcomed the amendments.

"We share the Newman Government's resolve to tackle youth crime and these reforms will send a strong message to offenders," Commissioner Stewart said.

"Youth crime statistics show the number and seriousness of offences should be of concern to all in the community.  With these proposed changes police will now be able to better protect the community."

Mr Bleijie said the reforms would be introduced to Parliament early next year.

"It follows an extensive public consultation process, including our Safer Streets Crime Action Plan survey," he said.

"Our proposals were overwhelmingly supported by more than 4,000 respondents, who were mostly victims of crime."

Mr Bleijie made the announcement at the opening of Stage 1 of the Cleveland Youth Detention Centre expansion, which doubles the centre's capacity.

"These reforms are part of our blueprint for the future of youth justice which has already made great progress," he said.

"We have implemented new laws that force graffiti vandals to clean up their mess, allow the crushing and indefinite seizure of hoons' cars and increase penalties for assaulting and evading police.

"We are also working to divert young people away from detention and a life of crime through our expanded boot camp trial.

"The early intervention Gold Coast camp is already being hailed as a success and the roll out of further camps in north Queensland, Rockhampton and the Fraser/Sunshine Coast is on track."

Do you think the reforms are too tough?

This poll ended on 27 September 2013.

Yes, they are over the top - 11%

No, they are just what is needed - 85%

I'm unsure - 2%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Topics:  jarrod bleijie

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