Townsville residents back Deb’s bold curfew plan
Cops would be rounding up children and forcing them into refuges under a controversial LNP curfew plan if the party was to win government next weekend.
The parents would then be fined $250 when they came to pick their kids up.
The contentious election pledge made by Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington in Townsville yesterday, would give police powers to enforce a curfew on children under 17 across the city.
Trialling the program in both Cairns and Townsville, Ms Frecklington said police would use their "common sense" on deciding who they rounded up and who they let carry on.
As part of the plan, children under 14 would need to be home by 8pm and teens aged 15-17 home before 10pm.
A News Corp Australia social media poll found that, of more than 1100 responses, 70 per cent of people agreed with the idea.
This is not the first time the LNP has announced a curfew plan. Former LNP leader Tim Nicholls promised a similar move at the 2017 election.
As part of the $5m announcement, Ms Frecklington said an LNP government would change the legislation giving police the power to take kids to the refuges if they were acting out on the streets after curfew.
"This is about making sure that parents become responsible for their children," Ms Frecklington said.
"In fact, everyone in our community must be responsible for the crime problem that we have here in Townsville."
Ms Frecklington said police would use "common sense" to determine if the children were out and about for a "reasonable excuse".
"The LNP government will not sit back and shrug its shoulder when faced with a crime wave," Ms Frecklington said. "We will take decisive action to cut crime and make communities safe again."
Ms Frecklington said Townsville police knew who the youngsters that continually reoffended were.
Mundingburra candidate Glenn Doyle, who is a Townsville police inspector, said unless the government did something about the youths out and about after dark, the opportunity would still be there to offend.
"I know the frustration, the police need the laws tightened up, the community need the laws tightened up, and it is about time we draw a line in the sand," Mr Doyle said.
He said this was an opportunity to take children to a refuge and get them engaged with the services they needed to turn their lives around.
"(These children) do come from dysfunctional families and need to have the opportunity to engage them with health, with child safety, with youth justice and get those early intervention plans started," Mr Doyle said.
In February, Sam Kingsley's takeaway store Sami's Place was held up by an 11-year-old with a 30cm knife. Her business has been broken into more than 10 times and Ms Kingsley said the crackdown could go even further.
"The government needs to put the power back to the parents, the schools and the police," she said.
Ms Kingsley said it was not just children from bad families causing issues in Townsville.
Police Minister Mark Ryan described the plan as "harebrained" and said the policy was a simplistic answer to a complex problem.
"Those kids who are on curfews get checked by police … they are part of an integrated system that is already in place, but a system that we are constantly investing in and constantly trying to improve," Mr Ryan said. "We've announced our five-point plan, it is having some success already, we're seeing the number of young offenders reducing and in fact, here in Townsville, the number of young offenders in the most recent data have reduced by 7 per cent.
"That's not to say that the job's done, there's still more to do. It's a very complex issue, and we will never give up until we have fully addressed it and we are turning young people away from crime."
Lisa Palamountain, 39, said she used to lived in Alice Springs where the government tried something similar, but it did not work. "There needs to be other support at home to address the issues as to why the kids are on the street in the first place," she said.
Michelle and Mark Graham had differing opinions on how helpful the new law would be.
"I don't think it will solve the issue, but it will cut it back," Mr Graham said. But Mrs Graham, an ex-child protection officer, was all for it. "There needs to be a safe space for kids to go. The new law is a help."
Originally published as Townsville residents back Deb's bold curfew plan