Police act on spike in youth crime
A POLICE officer, troubled by a spike in youth crimes, has come up with a new initiative to keep teens out of court.
According to police statistics for the Redcliffe Police Division, the number of juvenile offenders aged 10-17 charged for drug possession and/or use was 42 in the 2014/15 financial year.
This number decreased to 41 in 2015/16 and then to 34 in 2016/17 but jumped to 59 in 2017/18 and 48 in 2018/19.
Earlier this year there was a spate of vehicle crimes, involving youths stealing cars and taking them on high speed "joy rides" around the Peninsula.
One such incident ended with the death of a 14-year-old boyafter the allegedly stolen car crashed into a pole.
The new group, dubbed Redcliffe Peninsula Local Drug Action Team (LDAT) is led by District Crime Prevention Co-ordinator for Moreton Police District Sergeant Sarah Grayson.
"There was a spike in youth crime earlier in the year that saw the residents possibly feeling unsafe," Sgt Grayson said.
"Drug users will often commit crime to fund their habit, stealing anything that could be sold to purchase drugs.
"The LDAT was developed to tackle the spike in youth crime and issues around that including drugs, alcohol, crime, homelessness and trauma."
Redcliffe Headspace regional manager Jamie Thompson said there was no simple answer to why young people turn to drugs or crime.
"Some factors could include, boredom, peer pressure, intergenerational family factors, other social determinants and neurodevelopment," she said.
"Adolescence and early adulthood is a transition period of life, with lots of social and brain development occurring, so it's common to see behaviours characterised by risk taking and experimenting.
"Often young people are more focused on the immediate benefits to them and less so on the short or long term impacts of their actions or behaviours.
"Young people may experiment with alcohol and other drugs and the reality is most young people do so because it's fun. This is why focusing on the negative consequences of substance use often doesn't work for young people as they haven't experienced it.
"Most of the time it's not until the use has become problematic or addictive that the negative impacts arise."
Emergency services and local community groups including Redcliffe and Deception Bay PCYCs and the SES are also involved.
Sgt Grayson said one of the aims of LDAT was to form a "stronger and connected community".
"(It's about) Educating the local youth about issues surrounding drugs and alcohol through engaging sporting activities."
Sergeant Grayson said the group was still in its early stages but had plans to attend the Redcliffe skate park every Thursday night with a new activity for local youth.
From Term 3 this will be alternated between the skate park and basketball courts.
The LDAT has plans for two major projects in the region including Dress for Respect, a fashion night on September 18 and Turn Up Respect on September 20 at Picnic Hill.