17th July 2023

Youth offending has been brought up again, this time by Chief Commissioner Shane Patton, who calls for exemptions to the impact of lifting the age of criminal responsibility from ten to thirteen.

However, this move from the Chief to fix an unrealistic situation created by the legislators will only complicate managing youth crime, making it more difficult for the police and potentially opening up opportunities for career-ending litigation should any police member break the new rules, even inadvertently.

It will not reduce criminality by this cohort but increase it, putting children and the community at further risk.

The changes rely on perceptions, not facts, and what may seem appropriate to police involved in an incident may well be rejected subsequently by a court. Who incidentally was not there when the incident occurred.

The process will become so complicated that police accoutrements (equipment carried by Police) will need to include a ‘Youth Criminal manual’ for each member to refer to.

“Stop the car chase, while I check the procedure; they may be children.”

The CAA has a long history of advocating for intervention at an earlier age to deter children from committing crimes, the proactive approach. We now accept that because of other factors outside the control of the police, the situation has deteriorated dramatically, and the impact on police resources is so severe by recidivist offenders, particularly in the youth cohort, reactive responses must be the priority until the situation stabilises.

We support and encourage the Chief Commissioner to redirect all proactive and support resources to the front line of youth crime. That includes all special interest groups within VicPol, irrespective of how important the people in these groups feel their work is, as well as suspending all training to free up training staff as well as students.

As the situation continues to deteriorate, a repose similar to a war footing must be adopted.

An influx of hundreds of extra police, their vehicles and other resources will lift dramatically the ability of Police to increase patrols.

This, however, cannot be used as a catalyst for police to absolve the function of Proactive policing permanently and must include a sunset clause.

The operation must have a monthly review of progress and, in the first instance, be for a period of six months.

The blame, however, for that deterioration must be placed squarely at the feet of the Judiciary. But as is often the case, the solution in part relies on the Police.

To succeed, the courts have to do their part, albeit they caused it.

The failure to rein in criminality amongst the youth is also not the fault of the pundit’s favourite whipping horse, their parents. Parents are effectively excluded from the Judicial process even if they are present.

The judiciary must accept the responsibility for the rising crime rate as the reins are in their hands, nobody else’s.

The judiciary is the final arbiter regarding the consequences a juvenile may face. Those consequences must be a consequence in the eyes of the juvenile, not the judiciary.

One thing is blatantly apparent; the youth do not respond well to the current raft of penalty options issued by the courts. The flaw is that the youths do not understand they are being punished; instead, they have been merely inconvenienced by going to court.

As soon as their case is finalised and they walk out of the court, in their minds, they have won, irrespective of what the Court says. They have bragging rights among their peers that they beat the charges, deterrent lost.

Irrespective of what the courts may impose other than detention, they have won.

We are not advocating detention in every case but certainly for recidivists, and the penalty must be realistic.

Young people operate in a different time zone to mature adults hence their tendency to live in the moment, so a detention penalty of a few days the first time, escalating by a few weeks for reoffending, would be the deterrent that will work without creating the hardened criminal that social engineers claim will be the outcome. Operating on youth time is the key.

The habit of governments following ideological whims to remove criticism by pretending they are addressing a problem is fraught with danger, the problem will not go away if the rules are relaxed.

This is a similar approach to the drug epidemic.

It is, however, a disgrace and a terrible indictment imposed on the youth and the victims.

What about the victims of youth actions that will no longer be criminal, but which severely damage the property or rights of these victims?  Will the Government compensate victims?

Will victims have access to Victims’ support, given the actions of this group are no longer criminal? Why should innocent victims bear the loss and burden?

Will insurers still honour policies when the damage is not a crime?

For example, a group of eleven-year-olds is actively stealing from shops.  Is the shop owner within their rights to physically detain the youths and recover his or her property, with force if necessary?  Young offenders know what they are doing is wrong.  Irrefutable evidence of this is that they flee when challenged.  If they did not know what they were doing was wrong, why would they flee?

Rather than resolving and working pragmatically to address the problem, the government has created a monster that will have unintended and dramatic adverse consequences.

The judiciary that created this problem with the support industries of the social manipulators that have evolved around the court system must be tasked with resolving it.

Rather than working pragmatically to address the problem, the government has created a monster that will have unintended and dramatic consequences.

There is no better demonstration of the many breakdowns of the Legal system than the approach to bail. We regularly hear that perpetrators commit serious offences while on Bail; the idiocy is that these same perpetrators regularly have their original bail extended, but you never hear that the Bail has been forfeited.

The net effect is that Bail does not act as a deterrent, part of its function.

Victim’s rights must be protected.  To do otherwise is to condone crime.

If we do not push back against this idiocy and the failure of the courts to accept responsibility for the loss of young lives, ‘ARE WE BARKING MAD OR JUST PLAIN STUPID?’