Top brass to fly in for grassroots crime forum
QUEENSLAND'S top ranking police and political officials will fly into Townsville this week to attend a roundtable on crime, in one of the strongest signals yet that the State Government is concerned how significant the issue will be at the upcoming election.
The Bulletin has confirmed that Brisbane-based Police Minister Mark Ryan and Queensland Police top cop Katarina Carroll will attend the "Take Back Townsville Ministerial Talk" organised by Townsville woman Julianne Wood, who fired up a grassroots campaign late last year on the back of one of the city's crime waves.
The attendance of top Palaszczuk government brass comes a week after it was revealed there had been tensions at a Labor caucus meeting when leadership attempted to douse a Townsville MP's concerns about the perception of crime in the community.
Townsville's three Labor MPs, Scott Stewart, Aaron Harper, and Coralee O'Rourke, who will also attend the roundtable tomorrow evening at the Jubilee Bowls Club, had a tumultuous end to 2019 due to increasing public anger over rampant juvenile offending.
Neither Minister Ryan nor Ms Carroll attended the first or second Take Back Townsville rallies, where hundreds of residents angered by the city's crime rates marched through the streets.
The group is demanding political action to toughen up sentencing in the courts, for kids to be sent to facilities out bush and asked for chroming to be made illegal.
Mr Ryan said the State Government was "always interested in hearing any ideas local communities" had around community safety, and that "any instance of criminal offending is unacceptable and of concern".
But Labor politicians and top police brass have been warned to expect a "hostile reception" by Burdekin MP Dale Last, who will attend with Opposition child safety spokesman Stephen Bennett, as the grassroots uprising against perceived worsening crime rates shows no sign of abating.
Organiser Ms Wood said prevention tactics and solid future plans would be high on the agenda at the event, which is set to attract more than 100 people, and will include representatives from the Youth Justice Department.
"It's getting worse, not getting better," she said.
"They have to take it seriously what crime is like here."
Queensland Police data revealed there were 382 charges of unlawful entry in Townsville in January, up 48 per cent compared to January 2018.
Mr Harper, who described the first Take Back Townsville crime rally as the "tipping point" for top level government discussions, said preventive proposals had already been brought to his office and had been handed over to appropriate ministers.
He said an estimated rollout time for possible proposals was unknown and that he encouraged his government to be "agile" with its approaches.