‘F**k the police’: Child crims brazen online boasts
THEY'RE young, dumb and dangerous. Brazen child criminals are causing havoc in Queensland - stealing cars, selling drugs, robbing homes and taunting police in high-speed pursuits.
The boastful bandits are posting their exploits on social media.
Instagram feeds show youths speeding in stolen high-end European cars while jeering at police and endangering the public.
One Instagram video shows teenagers in a stolen Audi speeding down the M1 at more than 200km/h.
In another video a car load of teenagers in stolen car taunt their pursuers by yelling: "F--k the police."
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said a small but persistent group of youth offenders were proving a challenge for her officers.
"The number of child offenders over the years has decreased, but it's that smaller cohort whose recidivism is increasing - that's the challenge," she said. "That small cohort of 20 per cent, the high-end offenders, are actually offending more and they are the most difficult to deal with.
"So here is a group of young children that are probably more challenging than ever to deal with, and that's where most of our resources, when we deal with youth justice, goes."
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers has labelled youth crime a budding "national emergency".
"The system is broken," he said.
Mr Leavers criticised the amendments to the Youth Justice Act which in December was watered down to allow alleged child offenders to get bail more easily.
"The constant amendments have turned it into a Frankenstein's monster," he said. "Police have been beaten under the Youth Justice Act. The only ones winning are juveniles."
Mr Leavers called for an overhaul of the entire Youth Justice Act.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said winding back amendments to the Youth Justice Act would be "one of the first acts of government" if she is made premier after the October 31 state election.
"No more cotton gloves, no more slaps on the wrists, there will be jail time and true consequences for criminal activity under the LNP," she said.
"It's time to take back our streets, keep the community safe and teach these repeat young offenders a lesson - enough is enough."
Her comments came after the issue was highlighted in Cairns and Townsville. Federal Liberal MP Phillip Thompson, whose Herbert electorate takes in Townsville, said the changes are a "catch and release" program for criminals.
"We have a youth crime epidemic in Townsville," he said.
But Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer defended the Government's youth justice reforms
"The law is very clear - community safety comes first," she said. "If young people need to be held in custody to protect the community, they can and should be. Bail can be refused by the court or police if there is an unacceptable risk to community safety.
"Police have the power to arrest a child on the spot and without a warrant for breach of bail - the child can then be taken into custody and taken before a court."
Bond University criminologist Associate Professor Terry Goldsworthy labelled the recent changes a double-edged sword.
"It reduces the risk of any issues caused by having kids in custody, but the double edge is, if you're keeping them in custody and they want to keep offending, they can wreak havoc," he said. "(But) even if they wanted to keep the kids in custody they've got nowhere to put them."
Griffith University senior research fellow Samara McPhedran said youth justice was a "hot button" issue.
"If someone starts offending at a young age ... there is a lot of evidence to show it is more likely they will engage in more serious offending over time," she said. "However that is not representative of all youth offenders."
- Additional reporting by Madura McCormack