Queensland’s attorney-general says new laws will name and shame and force repeat juvenile offenders to take responsibility for their actions.
Criminal youths running amok in a north Queensland town have prompted tough new statewide laws to stamp out the behaviour.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie introduced to parliament on Tuesday amendments to youth justice legislation in a bid to crackdown on repeat offenders.
Mr Bleijie said the laws, which include removing detention as a last resort and naming and shaming repeat offenders, would make juvenile criminals take responsibility for their actions.
He said the laws should serve as a wake up call for young criminals but particularly in Townsville in north Queensland, where the community is under siege from joyriding teens.
“Repeat young offenders who steal cars will no longer get a slap on the wrist and be back on the streets stealing more cars,” Mr Bleijie told reporters in Brisbane.
He said repeat offenders with two previous convictions in the past 12 months would be sent to bootcamp as a mandatory sentence.
The move would take about 90 offending youths off Townsville streets a year, he said.
The announcement came after 18-year-old girl Navada Seaton was killed after crashing a stolen car in Townsville last month.
“Young people are dying on our streets and unfortunately there will be other deaths if we don’t step in,” Mr Bleijie said.
Townsville anti-crime campaigner Torhild Parkinson said the offending children needed to be stopped before they became adult criminals.
“We have young mums with sick babies that are too scared to drive to the hospital in the middle of the night because we have 14-year-olds driving high-powered cars down our streets at 140-160km/h,” she said.
“(They’re) not even stopping at red lights or stop signs.
“This is a nightly occurrence in Townsville.”
The tough measures have been slammed by Amnesty International, saying they do nothing to rehabilitate offenders and will fast-track them into prison cells.
But Mr Bleijie said the government’s approach incorporates rehabilitation through its bootcamp program.
“We recognise these are tough but firm and fair laws and it’s about solving particular issues of youth justice throughout the state.”