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  • Writer's pictureCreevey Horrell Lawyers

YOUTH CRIME REFORM IN QUEENSLAND

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

On 29 December 2022, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced various amendments to the Queensland Criminal Code. These reforms seek to implement changes to the way in which courts and police respond to youth crime. The amendments include:


  1. Increasing the maximum penalty for stealing a car from 7 years' to 10 years’ imprisonment.

  2. A more severe penalty of 14 years if the offence is committed at night, where the offender uses violence or threatens violence, is armed or pretends to be armed, is in company, or damages or threatens to damage any property.

  3. Amend the Youth Justice Act requiring courts to take into account previous bail history, criminal activity and track record when sentencing.

  4. Increased penalties for criminals who have boasted about these crimes on social media.

  5. Extreme high visibility police patrols.

  6. A $9.89 million fast-track sentencing program in Brisbane, Townsville, Southport and Cairns so children spend less time on remand and more time serving their sentences.

  7. The construction of two new youth detention centres.

  8. A trial of engine immobilisers in Mt Isa, Cairns and Townsville.

  9. The appointment within QPS of an Assistant Commissioner to the position of Youth Crime Taskforce Commander.

  10. The increased penalties apply to adult as well as juvenile offenders.

This announcement occurred just three days after an alleged home invasion in North Lakes that resulted in the death of Emma Lovell. She was allegedly stabbed and paramedics were unable to save her after two 17-year-olds broke into her home about 11:30pm on Boxing Day.


Annastacia Palaszczuk stated that “crime, especially youth crime, is a complex issue but community safety must come first. All of the programs to divert children away from crime will continue but the community is demanding tougher penalties too." Additionally, Police Minister Mark Ryan stated that “tougher penalties, elevated surveillance and a concentrated ‘extreme’ police visibility in strategic locations at certain times will help disrupt the illegal activities of those who wish to do harm to the community”.


However, a review conducted by former Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson, released in November 2022, indicted that youth detention without rehabilitation was not effective, with a criminal’s reoffending rates generally higher than if they were provided a community-based sentence. Additionally, Atkinson concluded that youth detention was more costly than community-based sentences. Critically, on average, community-based youth justice supervisions costs approximately $270, while detention-based supervision for the average young person costs around $1670. Ultimately, it is unclear whether the Government's reforms will have a positive effect on youth crime and the Queensland community.

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