Police figures obtained by The Courier-Mail show robbery offences soared by more than 52 per cent to 1033 in 2018, up from 677 in 2017.
Police figures obtained by The Courier-Mail show robbery offences soared by more than 52 per cent to 1033 in 2018, up from 677 in 2017.

Queensland's youth crime crisis laid bare

QUEENSLAND is in the grip of a juvenile crime crisis, with the number of robberies and assaults committed by youth under 18 skyrocketing last year.

Police figures obtained by The Courier-Mail show robbery offences soared by more than 52 per cent to 1033 in 2018, up from 677 in 2017.

The number of juveniles charged with assault increased from 2918 to 3030, while sexual offences rose from 531 to 536.

Earlier data, publicly available online, shows the number of robbery offences has doubled since 2013, and assaults and total offences have all increased.

The figures have alarmed community groups and youth advocacy organisations, who say while some of the increases since 2017 can be attributed to the decision to raise the legal definition of a juvenile from 16 to 17 years old, this change could not solely be to blame for such a dramatic rise in offending.

Statewide, six juveniles were charged with homicide and there were another seven offences for attempted murder.

There were more than 10,000 offences of shoplifting and in excess of 6600 instances of unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

Constable Peter McAulay on the mend at Charity Golf Day at Sandy Gallop Golf Club last year. Constable McAulay was critically injured in September after a hit and run in Ipswich. Two teenagers were charged with attempted murder. Photo: Cordell Richardson.
Constable Peter McAulay on the mend at Charity Golf Day at Sandy Gallop Golf Club last year. Constable McAulay was critically injured in September after a hit and run in Ipswich. Two teenagers were charged with attempted murder. Photo: Cordell Richardson.

One such incident last year saw a 16-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl charged with attempted murder and unlawful use of a motor vehicle after Queensland Police officer Constable Peter McAulay, 24, was left fighting for his life after a hit and run crash in Ipswich.

Last week a 17-year-old was charged with the alleged shooting murder of Dr Luping Zeng.

Adam James and Michael Seabrook, from CFA Liberty Enterprises, who dedicate their time to turning around the fortunes of juvenile crims. Photo: AAP Image/Claudia Baxter.
Adam James and Michael Seabrook, from CFA Liberty Enterprises, who dedicate their time to turning around the fortunes of juvenile crims. Photo: AAP Image/Claudia Baxter.

Adam James, a Brisbane support worker aiming to turn around the lives of juvenile offenders, said most of young offenders he sees had either used meth or been impacted by its use.

More than 6,523 drug possession offences were recorded by police in 2018, with just 271 offences for underage liquor possession in the same year.

"It affects everything," Mr James said. "They're far more likely to be violent (on meth)."

"At some point, it spirals down to losing a job, loss of relationships, some sort of tragic event and homelessness. Around that time, that's when crime starts and then violent crimes."

He said anti-drug campaigns had failed to limit the availability of methamphetamines, which were much cheaper than similar illicit drugs.

"Meth is readily available," he said. "It's a very low cost for the intensity of the hit."

Public transport hubs on the Sunshine and Gold coasts have become hot spots of youth crime, with politicians and locals raising concerns about public safety.

Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson said her electorate had a problem with violent youths and more needed to be done to crack down on public transport fare evasion, which she claimed was a "gateway" to children committing more serious offences.

"There has been a culture where bad behaviour has escalated into violence," she said.

"Fare evasion might seem like a low order offence, but it speaks to a culture of disrespect and abuse of public transport systems."

Police conducted Operation Romeo Luminous on the Gold Coast this month, cracking down on antisocial or criminal behaviour across public transport areas. Picture: Jerad Williams
Police conducted Operation Romeo Luminous on the Gold Coast this month, cracking down on antisocial or criminal behaviour across public transport areas. Picture: Jerad Williams

On the Gold Coast, there were several reports throughout March of violent juvenile crimes around the Helensvale train station.

In early March, a group of teens allegedly dragged a 12-year-old boy out of a taxi at Helensvale train station before beating him. The victim received a broken jaw, chipped tooth while two 12-year-olds allegedly involved were charged with robbery, stealing and weapons offences.

In late March, two nine-year-old girls allegedly verbally abused a pregnant woman and spat at a security guard during an ordeal at the same Helensvale shopping centre.

The incident lasted 90 minutes, during which the two girls stomped on a white sedan and yelled "we know the law, you can't touch us!"

Local MP Sam O'Connor said locals in his community had contacted his office too, warning that people would be hurt if action wasn't taken.



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