OFF TRACK: ‘Hard core’ kids of crime don’t fit GPS mould

LESS than half of the "hard core" youth offenders who terrorise the community will be eligible to be tracked by GPS monitors under the state government's new bail law shake up.

In a recent Question on Notice, Shadow Police Minister Dale Last asked Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard to break down the ages of the state's 10 per cent of youth offenders who commit 48 per cent of youth crime.

The data showed 158 of the 344 recidivist offenders were under 16 years old, with the highest demographic of children aged 15 (82), and therefore ruling them out of potential GPS tracking.

Under the state government's amended youth bail laws, offenders aged 16 or 17 are the only ones eligible to be fitted with a GPS tracker as part of a 12-month trial in multiple locations around the state, including Townsville.

In order to be eligible for a tracker, the offender must be charged with a serious offence, and also have been convicted of a previous, serious offence.

Shadow Police Minister Dale Last said the numbers were proof that it was a flop.

"This data proves what we have been saying since the amendments were announced; that they don't go far enough," Mr Last said.

Geoff Toomby and Burdekin MP Dale Last at a crime rally in Townsville Picture: Evan Morgan
Geoff Toomby and Burdekin MP Dale Last at a crime rally in Townsville Picture: Evan Morgan

"Many would argue that, by the time an offender is stealing cars or seriously assaulting people, it is already too late, let alone the fact that they have to have been convicted to fit in the designated age groups. "Ignoring the single largest group of hard core offenders is yet another example of the government ignoring the calls of the community, just as they have done by ruling out breach of bail."

The QoN states that as of December last year, 75 juveniles aged 16 years old, and 72 juveniles aged 17 year old were among the top 10 per cent of youth offenders.

Offending spiked at 15 years old, with 82 of the state's worst offenders falling into that age bracket. It also states the youngest recidivist offenders were 11 years old (2).

Police Minister Mark Ryan in Townsville on Friday. Picture: Evan Morgan
Police Minister Mark Ryan in Townsville on Friday. Picture: Evan Morgan

Six of the state's worst offenders were aged 12, 26 were aged 13 and 42 were aged 14, as well as 39 who became adults before their juvenile cases could be settled in court.

Police Minister Mark Ryan was asked by the Townsville Bulletin on Friday about broadening the age group for the trackers.

Mr Ryan said the GPS trial was partly shaped off recommendations made in the Atkinson Report on Youth Justice, which stated GPS trackers may be more suitable for older children who could look after them properly.

"It's a trial, spot on. So let's perfect it," Mr Ryan said.

"Let's work hard and we'll see what the results are and we'll make a decision after that."

The GPS trackers were also discussed at a recent committee hearing into the government's proposed amendments to the youth justice laws announced on February 25.

Originally published as OFF TRACK: 'Hard core' kids of crime don't fit GPS mould



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