Impacts, changes, and Implications | New Youth Crime Laws in Queensland
The Queensland government has now passed tough new youth crime laws, changing the way the court and police respond to youth crime. These changes were proposed after an ‘influx’ of youth crime and high-profile cases took place across Queensland.
The initial announcement of these amendments brought a polarising response, causing a nationwide debate on how best to manage criminal behaviour amongst young people. While Palaszczuk promoted the route of youth detention to diminish youth crime in the community, oppositions argued for a focus on rehabilitation instead.
Despite debate, the parliament has since passed these actions, and has enforced stronger laws in the hope to protect community safety. Some of the changes include making breach of bail an offence for Queensland youth, heightening the maximum penalty for car theft, and making the use of social media in relation to crime an aggravating factor.
A Closer Look
What are the new youth crime laws in Queensland? Here are the new laws brought to crack down on young offenders.
1. Breach of Bail is now an Offence for Youth
Until the new reform, breach of bail has been a criminal offence restricted to adults only. New laws now outline breach of bail as a criminal offence for youth as well. The maximum penalty for this is one year of detention under the Youth Justice Act.
2. Maximum Penalties for Car-Related Crime Increased
Unlawful possession of a motor vehicle, or ‘car theft,’ now has a maximum penalty of 10 years, previously increased from 7. However, the maximum penalty for juvenile defendants is 5 years detention as adults are sentenced higher.
3. The Use of Social Media is now an Aggravating Factor
Under the new youth crime laws in Queensland, the use of social media in relation to criminal activities is now considered an aggravating factor. This means that if a young offender commits a crime and uses social media platforms to boast about their actions, it can result in more severe penalties upon conviction. The legislation aims to discourage young individuals from engaging in unlawful activities through these platforms.
4. New Powers of Police to Arrest
Police officers have been given broader powers of arrest for specific groups of young offenders. Previously, police officers were obliged to consider alternative approaches to arrest when a child is under reasonable suspicion of contravening bail conditions. However, the updated laws now include an exception to this. It is no longer a must for police officers to consider alternatives to arrest.
Also included are Intervention program named “intensive case management” (ICM), GPS ankle monitor trials, further sentencing considerations, conditional release orders, and more. Anticipating the influx of detained youth, 18-year-olds currently detained will be transferred to adult prison.
All of the new changes apply to children aged 10-17.
No doubt the impact of these new laws and measures will be closely monitored in the coming months and years, as it is still early days. Those in favour of the new laws believe they will create a safer environment and discourage young individuals from engaging in criminal activities. There are conflicting opinions, those of which express concerns about potential negative consequences, namely exacerbating the cycle of criminal behaviour.
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