‘WACK- A- MOLE’ Government Strategy on Youth.

‘WACK- A- MOLE’ Government Strategy on Youth.

(‘Whack-a-Mole’ is a 1970s arcade-style game that lives up to its name. It consists of Moles popping up out of their burrows randomly and the players trying to wack them with a mallet.)

At a time when the youth crisis is in an out-of-control spiral, irrespective of how the government tries to spin the problem, the Government is using the police force in a futile effort to resolve the issue by forcing them to play ‘Wack-A-Mole

Additionally, the government trumpets action, which turns out to be inaction, that the community is supposed to accept, but it is all smoke and mirrors with no clear strategy.

The problem that we face with young people and crime, in general, is that nobody is doing anything about reducing crime before it occurs. They would rather play ‘Wack-a-Mol’,

As reported in the Herald Sun,

  • Vehicle thefts have jumped by 25% to 40000.
  • 59,000 motorists had valuables stolen from their vehicles.

And the advice for drivers was to lock their cars and hide valuables – the victim’s fault.

These statistics become more concerning yearly – more offences, more victims.

This crime is shared between opportunistic drug addicts to fund their addiction and juveniles out for ‘the thrill’. The crime surge is the fault of weak legislation and poor strategies to combat crime. Blaming the victim is unforgivable.

But never fear. The government has spent five years drafting a new Youth Justice Bill to address the current anomalies in the Judicial system.

The Bill, if enacted in its present form, will add to the crime problem, not diminish it, as its sole focus is diverting young people from the Justice system after they offend, and its 900 pages do not mention once, what can be done with younger children, to divert them from crime. However, it expends a lot of words to remove concepts of accountability and consequences from all young offenders.

It also lifts the age of criminal responsibility to 13 years from 10 years, an ideological whim not only contradicts the empirical evidence published by government agencies but expends no energy on how these children in that underage cohort who commit crimes will be dealt with.

‘Alarming statistics released in June found crimes involving children as young as ten had soared to their highest level since 2010, with a 52.6 per cent spike in offences committed by ten and 11-year-olds.

Children aged 10 to 13 years old were responsible for 84 aggravated burglaries, while those aged 14 to 17 were considered to be “over-represented” in burglaries, assaults, robberies and car thefts – HS 10.7.2024

A cynic may suggest that the statistics don’t show children younger than 10 committing crimes because they are below the legislated age of criminal intent. That cohort will show a 100% decline in children aged 10 and 11 committing crimes when the age is lifted.

Will the government exploit this statistical foible to pretend they’re solving the problem? Doubtless, they will.

With contributions like ‘dob in a mate’ the latest government offering, all we can say is, ‘good luck with that’. However, it points to the disconnect between the government and its advisers and the real world.

The reality is that Police and the community will just have to wait until a perpetrator turns 13 before their criminal endeavours can perhaps be curtailed. On occasions, police in the past have had to wait until a child turns ten before they can be presented to the judicial system to curb their criminal behaviour.

These arbitrary age limits do not necessarily coincide with the child’s acuity development or when a child is acting in concert with others who may be older in the commission of crimes.

They must be scrapped.

Of course, being charged is only part of the problem. The main issues are,

  • Ineffective bail laws.

The failure of the Bail Laws, which the Courts say is not their fault but the legislators, is the lamest excuse ever hidden behind, a weak excuse and entirely accurate.

  • Failure to hold children to account for their actions.

If criminal behaviour does not have consequences, what motivation exists to change children’s behaviour – talk fests and meetings don’t cut it.

  • Failure to apply sanctions for criminality.

The law is based, in part, on a fear (Deterrent factor) that certain unacceptable behaviours attract sanctions imposed by a Court, but illogically, this concept is removed from children, which is a significant part of the problem as they seldom suffer any accurate or effective sanctions.

The future for the children is not looking good; by the time their unlawful behaviour is checked, crime is entrenched in their psyche or soul, and the chances of rehabilitation are problematic.

Easy bail is only one of the many illogical approaches the government has persisted with, as, for example, the most recent absconding of a juvenile bailed on charges of culpable driving causing death after a stolen car he was allegedly driving ploughed into another vehicle, killing the occupant.

The perpetrator absconded within hours of being bailed, and the real fear is that he was behind the wheel of another stolen car. Now in custody, what he did for the three days on the run will no doubt be exposed in due course.

In this matter, the government and the courts have blood on their hands, but will that be enough to have them wake up and do their job in the community’s best interests?

The CAA calls on the government to act before more innocent lives are lost.

  • Immediately amend the Bail Act to unshackle the Courts (who will then have no excuse) and follow the New South Wales model of liberalising the ability of the courts to reject applications for the privilege of Bail in appropriate cases.
  • Immediately reinstate the offence of breach of bail conditions.
  • Immediately abandon the notion of lifting the age for criminal intent. All children develop at different stages; therefore, the age is somewhat irrelevant anyway, and all ages should be removed instead, relying on the common law principle of doli incapaxa, a Latin phrase meaning “incapable of evil”, a defence available to all children.  children under 14 years.
  • Immediately develop proactive initiatives that divert young people from crime before offending rather than relying on diversion programs after offending.
  • Immediately abandon the flawed Youth Justice Bill, which, if enacted, will increase the crime rate.

The ball is now squarely in the Government’s court, and a failure to act as outlined will condemn this government forever.

Break The Needle

Break The Needle

 This article gives an insight into the direction and traps in managing drug addiction.

 Canada has been the window to the future of the drug addiction problem in Australia. It has shown the world the contrasting outcome of pragmatic management as opposed to the id

We will bring you further articles authorised to be published by Break the Needle, giving a window into where the drug epidemic is headed and what works and what doesn’t. We would do well to note the Canadian experience.

We have our own conflicted approach, with one arm of the government expending vast resources trying to control the illicit drug trade and use, the Legal system and the Health system dealing with the consequences of use, while all the while the government is promoting and facilitating drug use, with the Drug Injecting Room and further promotion of safe drugs, the Pill Testing service.

Captured by the failed ‘Harm Minimisation’ fallacy, we can expect the next big thing will be an emphasis on ‘Safer Supply’. The toe is already in the door with Pill Testing.

 

Opioid seizures exploded by 3,000% in Ontario City after a “safer supply” experiment.

Doctors and journalists wondering why local police failed to disclose concerning statistics to the public sooner.

JUL 07, 2024

A London (Canada) police drug seizure in April included 9,298 Dilaudid eight-milligram tablets.

By Matthew Hannick

Nigel Stuckey saved more lives during the last five years of his policing career than the previous three decades combined. “Every time you go back to the street, it has a different flavour,” said Stuckey, a former sergeant with the London Police Service (LPS) who retired in 2022. “As a frontline police officer, you are constantly going to overdoses in the city. I’ve administered Narcan to multiple people, and this is just something that never existed before.”

Stuckey first noticed a dramatic increase in overdoses and drug-related crimes occurring throughout his city – London, Ontario – in 2019. While the reasons behind this increase were initially unclear, recent data released by the LPS suggest that “safer supply” programs may be contributing to the problem.

Safer supply programs aim to save lives by providing drug users with pharmaceutical-grade alternatives to the untested street supply. That typically means distributing hydromorphone, a heroin-strength opioid, as an alternative to illicit fentanyl. However, addiction experts say the program is having the opposite effect, as many people who are enrolled in safer supply programs are illegally selling or trading their prescribed hydromorphone on the black market, a practice known as “diversion.”

Harm reduction advocates claim that safer supply diversion is not a significant issue, but according to an investigation into London Police Services (LPS) seizure data by journalist Adam Zivo, the number of hydromorphone tablets seized in London increased by 3,000 per cent after access to safer supply was greatly expanded in 2020.

In 2019, the LPS seized fewer than 1,000 hydromorphone tablets. This number jumped significantly in 2020 and continued to rise afterwards, reaching 30,000 tablet seizures last year – an unprecedented amount. The London police estimate that last year’s record will be met or exceeded by the end of 2024.

Doctors have said that this is only representative of a small fraction of what is actually out there, and that just 3-4 of these pills, if snorted, are enough to induce an overdose in a new user.

Some people are wondering why this data wasn’t released months, if not years, earlier.

Dr. Sharon Koivu, a London-based addiction physician, was among the first to recognize the harms of safer supply and has been warning the public about widespread diversion for years. Based on her clinical experiences, she believes that diverted safer supply hydromorphone is causing new addictions and falling into the hands of youth.

When Koivu tried to speak out against safer supply and call attention to diversion and an overall lack of program transparency, she was bullied and told that the suffering she was witnessing didn’t exist. This harassment was so severe that her mental health deteriorated and she worried about whether her career had been irreversibly damaged – yet the London police had quietly possessed data showing that she was right all along.

“It’s become an ideological thing,” she said. “People seem to have doubled down on the information they have. They don’t want to hear from someone who has information and concerns that don’t align with their, I’m going to say, ideology – because it’s not science.”

News of skyrocketing hydromorphone seizures might have remained hidden from the public had it not been for a major bust earlier this year.

On April 12, the London police announced a drug seizure which included 9,298 hydromorphone eight-milligram tablets. When Zivo inquired into this seizure, he received no answers to his questions for almost two months. He says that he was “stonewalled” and that the police seemed unwilling to release key data until it became impossible for them not to.

Zivo found it particularly concerning that the 2019-2023 hydromorphone seizure data was not released earlier. “Journalists and addiction physicians have been trying to raise the alarm about this issue for years,” he said, “but have been called liars, grifters and fearmongers, despite the fact that data validating their concerns existed and was held by the London Police Service.”

Stuckey, who now works as a documentary filmmaker covering London’s homelessness, addiction and mental health crisis, had a similar experience when he queried the LPS about the 9,290 hydromorphone pills seized this April.

Despite multiple requests for information about a possible connection to safer supply, the police service did not get back to him. He expressed frustration at the police’s unresponsiveness and worried that a lack of government transparency is endangering both the general public and law enforcement officers.

“Members of the London Police Service are being put in harm’s way dealing with organized crime and firearms to take drugs off the street, which were provided by the federal government. It’s absolute lunacy that we are paying one branch of government to rid a problem that was created by another branch of government,” said Stuckey.

It would be deeply concerning if the LPS knowingly withheld data pertaining to safer supply diversion. Not only has the failure to publish such data hindered informed public debate and policy development, it has also compromised the safety of the very communities which police are tasked with protecting.

According to Zivo, safer supply programs have benefitted from the silence of powerful institutions like the LPS. He said that, as there seems to be significant institutional resistance to acknowledging the community harms of safer supply, then more attention and trust should be given to local grassroots-level addiction medicine practitioners “who are bravely testifying to what they are seeing in their clinics.”

However, Dr. Koivu thinks that “the tide is turning” and that more people are beginning to understand the harms of safer supply

“I think it’s unfortunate that this data wasn’t made available sooner, when it was relevant to the funding of these programs and the changes we’re seeing in the city. The police need to be accountable for that. I really don’t understand their rationale for not addressing this” she said. “They hung me out to dry while knowing that what I was saying was accurate. If the police are afraid to come forward, no wonder physicians are afraid to come forward, too.”

NEW YOUTH BILL TO WEAKEN YOUTH LAWS.

NEW YOUTH BILL TO WEAKEN YOUTH LAWS.

To say the CAA has deep concerns about this Bill and the adverse impact it will have on raising youth crime in this state is a gross understatement.

What is generally not well understood is that this Bill is ‘the foot in the door’ for further introducing the concept of ‘Restorative Justice’, a monumental change in how Justice is dispensed in this State.

A plan that promotes ideology over pragmatism.

Significant changes included in this Bill include the plethora of conferences and committees required to manage each offender instead of the concept of punishment and accountability, which has been whitewashed out of this Bill.

Preventing young people from committing crimes in the first place is not even mentioned.

Effectively, a child can take a position where they will not comply with any processes available to the Courts or any other authorities under this Bill, and nothing can be done about it. No punishment can be applied, regardless of the child’s actions.

We suspect that the majority of the community and many politicians do not understand the consequences of this Bill, and none of them are good.

Why wasn’t the community advised of this change? We are unaware of where the Government of the day achieved a mandate for such a severe and monumental change to the principles of Justice.

It took five years to draft, underscoring the difficulty and, given the outcome, incompetence displayed in the principles that have evolved to form this Bill.

This Bill will continue to stoke crime, not diminish it.

‘A committee was formed to design a Horse ( the Bill to Reform Youth Justice), but they came up with a camel ( no ordinary Camel but a two-humped  Bactrian Camel with three legs).’

 With all the effort of five years, the Bill as presented does not address the issue the community now faces and is riddled with extreme socialist ideology and drafted by a committee that has no understanding of the people they are supposed to be protecting. It will feed the crime wave.

The Bill misses the mark by a long way.

Central to the flaw in this Bill is the assumption that children under thirteen (13) cannot form criminal intent.

This assumption isn’t based on any empirical data and flies in the face of the reality of the evolution of human development.

Over the last two decades, the development of young people has accelerated faster than any other preceding era.

The speed at which this has occurred is most evident in the last ten years when evolution achieved warp speed, driven by two significant factors: Nutrition and Technology.

The ‘canary in the coal mine’, the juvenile crime surge, generally ignored, has seen the accelerated crime rate by Juveniles and the failure to recognise the changes that were occurring in front of us all.

 Nutrition

The impact of a higher level of nutrition in recent times must be seen as positive as young people will probably grow up healthier than their predecessors, but with that nutrition comes increased physical development. It’s not an issue until you realise that young people, on average, are taller and better developed physically than their predecessors. A phenomenon that immature minds can and do exploit.

 Technology

Technology continues to accelerate at warp speed, and young people born in this era are the ones who maximise its use. They are more connected and have access to more data than previous generations ever dreamed of. This massive influx of good and bad information has developed young people’s mental acuity well beyond the perceived norm. This has happened without comparative life skills development.

They, therefore, lack the ability and maturity to process and analyse this physical development effectively, leading them to emulate others without understanding the consequences or ignoring the consequences because there are none.

Impact

Today, a 10 – 12-year-old is the equivalent of a 13–15-year-old ten years ago.

The Bill is headed in the wrong direction and should instead be lowering the age of criminal responsibility, not lifting it, particularly when the child understands what they did was criminal.

 Lifting the age of criminal intent to 12 years before children can be charged with a crime, irrespective of their development, is a recipe for increased crime. Waiting until they are older before any legal intervention can occur entrenches the child further into crime, making efforts to rehabilitate them from crime much more difficult.

Early intervention will reduce crime and improve the chances of young people developing without the stigma of exposure to Legal processes.

 Why do we have to wait until a young person is climbing the hierarchy of crime before any action is taken?

 

HOW MANY MORE MUST DIE?

HOW MANY MORE MUST DIE?

Remnants of the stolen car after Burwood fatality. Picture: Nine News/Today

 

It was a needless and shocking fatality, avoidable on a number of levels, and probably would have had more significant consequences had the thieves not taken a top-end car with all its advanced safety features to protect them, but not the innocent and hapless victim.

This needless loss of life is the direct consequence of a government ignoring advice, and unfortunately, the trajectory the government is on will only increase the risks, not mitigate them.

The government response was reported as:

A state government spokeswoman said what happened at Burwood was an unthinkable tragedy.

“Our thoughts are with the loved ones of the man who lost his life,” the spokeswoman said.

Details about the incident are still being investigated and we are in close contact with Victoria Police. We are confident police will apprehend those who are still on the run as quickly as possible.”

She said Victoria had more police on the beat than any other state of territory and that the force targeted the worst young offenders, making 2700 arrests in the past year.

This statement attributed to a spokesperson is heartless and disrespectful to the victim and insulting to his family. We are not sure how the thoughts of the government can be with the Victim’s loved ones when they don’t even have the courtesy to use Ash Gordon’s name. However, the revelation in this statement should worry every Victorian when the spokesperson bragged of the 2700 arrests in the past year.

Again and again, this government ignores the simple concept of prevention, which is the only tried and proven way to stop this growing crime tsunami.

Arresting offenders is essential, but it will not reduce crime as the perpetrators are as inane as their actions. Still, they believe they won’t get caught, so the whole concept of deterrence is lost, exacerbated by the current judicial practices that obviously fail miserably to address the real issues.

The CAA has long argued that there are mechanisms that have been tried and worked in the past that could be reintroduced. A serious investment of money and resources into provocative policing is required to stem the tide.

The problem is set to become much worse as the government processes its latest effort, the Youth Justice Bill.

This 1100-page Bill that took five years to write doesn’t herald any innovation but is an extension of all the bad aspects of the current system. All the current flaws are further entrenched.

So, more of the same, only worse. More people will die, and more lives will be ruined, including devastating our young, because the government is focused on an unproven experimental concept, Restorative Justice, which nobody can indicate where this process has worked.

The government’s current and future strategies do not deal with diverting young people from crime.

Unbelievably, their new Youth Justice Bill regularly mentions diversion as one of its central planks. However, that is not a diversion from crime but from the legal system.

The two concepts are not mutually inclusive; they are different and seek different outcomes, which, in our view, are counterproductive objectives. Under the government’s new Bill, when a child commits multiple offences or a series of offences, there is no intervention or effort to have the child accept accountability or be subject to consequences. The Bill aims to put the child through a series of meetings and conferences, assuming that will solve the problem.

The recommendations of the CAA would have gone a long way to avoiding this tragic situation. See:

https://caainc.org.au/youth-crisis-a-solution/

https://caainc.org.au/crackdown-on-crime-the-wet-lettuce-leaf-approach/

https://caainc.org.au/you-cant-be-serious-premier/

A necessary and effective process of reducing the crime associated with cars is to ensure the vehicle, when stolen, can’t be used for the crook’s intended purpose. Take away their tools of trade; in this case, the stolen car, and the crime of Aggravated Burglary and car theft will plummet. Moreover, there are a raft of other serious crimes that stolen vehicles are currently used in commissioning; this initiative will curtail overall criminal activity. Crooks may have to resort to public transport or Uber.

An upgraded and relocated (within the vehicle) G-Tag could replace the E-Tag and perform that function to enable authorities to turn off the car, thwarting the crook’s ability to use the vehicle for criminal activity, including driving recklessly.

There will also be a perfect chance the car can be recovered intact, a blessing for those of the lower socio-economic strata, and the reduced losses of vehicles should reduce insurance premiums to benefit us all.

A number of cars already come with this capacity, and the owner can activate the disabling function; however, this assumes that the crooks didn’t take the victim’s phone and the victim is in a state to make sound decisions. Totally temporarily disabling the car at the wrong time could cause more significant risks to the community.
Imagine if a car was disabled at speed on a freeway without warning; this would cause carnage. With control of this resource by authorities, the vehicle could be monitored and disabled safely. With the owner having control, the consequences for their partner driving the car during a domestic dispute could have disastrous consequences. See:

https://caainc.org.au/?s=G-Tag

https://caainc.org.au/?s=The+G-tag

One problem the government has is being briefed by people who are not in touch with reality. The government was recently given a confidential briefing on youth-related matters only to have the staff from the Justice Department responsible for writing strategy for the government complain that the presentation was too graphic and stressful.

It is interesting how the victims of this crime may view this sensitivity, and it goes a long way to show that those drafting government policy are out of touch with the reality of the issues, perhaps living in a bubble of fantasy. Given some of their recent contributions, fantasy appropriately categorises their efforts. Unfortunately, the tragic death on Tuesday involving a stolen car is a portend of more to come. Lives are wasted by inaction. See:

https://caainc.org.au/woke-joke-meets-reality-shock/

It is fast heading in the direction that the only option for Victorians is to demonstrate against the Government’s direction as it is not only ruining people’s lives now living in fear but also ruining the lives of young Victorians coerced into crime.

The first action is to sign our petition at: https://caainc.org.au/petitions/

Then contact your local member of Parliament and make your views heard.

NEW CRIME DATA REVEALS SHOCKING EXTENT OF VICTORIA’S YOUTH CRIME WAVE

NEW CRIME DATA REVEALS SHOCKING EXTENT OF VICTORIA’S YOUTH CRIME WAVE

An article appeared in the Herald Sun on the 20th of June under the above heading and exposed the real and present dangers that Victorians face.

Crimes involving children as young as 10 years old have soared to their highest level since 2010 as alarming new figures reveal the state’s growing youth crime wave.

Children aged 14 to 17 years old were “over-represented” in burglaries, assaults, robberies and car thefts while almost 400 youth gang members were arrested within the past 12 months.

Baby-faced offenders aged 10 or 11 years old also recorded a 52.6 per cent spike in the number of offences committed.

More than a third of young criminals aged between 10 and 17 years old are repeat offenders, with the number of recidivist offenders rising by 10.4 per cent.

Children aged 10 to 13 years old were responsible for 84 aggravated burglaries across the state.

Five years ago, they had only been involved in 18.

These alarming figures are from the Crimes Statistics Agency Victoria, and apart from the danger these figures indicate, we are exposed to the more problematic fact that the Government is working hard to fan the flames of the issue, not resolve it.

More importantly, the government holds overall responsibility and is protecting ineptitude in the various arms of governments responsible for managing youth crime.

These must be held to account as much as the government.

The Courts

Daily, yet another juvenile responsible for atrocious crimes is being granted bail.

And given the Bail Act, it makes us wonder just what the judiciary is at.

The recent Bail Amendment Act 2023 (the Act), which commenced on 25 March 2024, made further changes to the Bail Act 1977, seeking to ensure bail laws protect the whole community and better target the use of remand for cases where it is necessary to prevent an unacceptable risk to community safety.- https://www.criminalsolicitorsmelbourne.com.au/blog/victorian-bail-law-reform

The Act is clear and applies standard English interpretations to the understanding of the Act’s purpose as amended; how do the courts circumnavigate this legislation, not occasionally but regularly, without apparent intervention by the government?

If the Attorney General does not provide leadership, the Director of Public Prosecutions must appeal some of these Court decisions.

What’s the good of having a government that produces a law that the courts ignore, suggesting they are not interested in subservience to the legislation?

It is our opinion that we are reaping the folly of the Restorative Justice fantasy forced on us as a solution to crime, but it has been an abject failure – just look at the crime statistics.

Why would any sane, reasonable person countenance any principles of that failed social experiment defies logic? And it is even more astounding that the judiciary could be seduced by this rubbish.

The Police

The Police do not help the whole issue.

The first point is that they need to stop making excuses that support the mindset that they can arrest their way out of the problem.

It took two decades to convert the Victoria Police Force under two visionary Chief Commissioners, Miller and Glare, from one predominantly reactive (as they are today) to a predominantly proactive force, particularly with youth.

The results were that crime by juveniles was not the epidemic it now is, and overall, crime declined as fewer juvenile offenders grew into adult offenders rather than managing and encouraging the juveniles into crime.

It took only one Chief Commissioner to destroy the effective direction of the force and three consecutive Chiefs, predominantly with a background of exclusive reactive federal police experience, to ensure the proactive approach was kept from developing, even though many operational police know the value of the proactive approach but gained no support as the police priority remains reactive.

The current Chief Commissioner has attempted to push back against the trend with limited success, as the crime statistics illustrate.

There is a major problem when you have an Acting Deputy Commissioner of Regional Operations, Brett Curran, quoted as saying, “A small group of hardened” young criminals were now committing severe and violent crimes more often.” (spin)

The following line says, ‘nearly 400 youth gang members have been arrested in the past 12 months.’ (fact)

 Mr Curran also said, “Police arrested seven youth gang members, child thieves and car thieves every day during the past year.” (Spin)

That claim by Mr Curran equates to 2,555 youth gang member arrests, not nearly 400.

Indeed, some are arrested time and time again.  Why? Because the courts are failing in their duty to the citizens of this state.

So much for the claim of a small number.

Victims would undoubtedly be impressed by the Deputies’ analysis (and maths) as they try to put their lives back together after an experience with the “small group”.

We wonder whether the Deputy who spent a considerable time out of policing as Daniel Andrew’s Chief of Staff has lost perspective.

As a Police executive, he has to learn not to use political spin he knew in his last job. The community sees straight through it and expects better from their Police leadership.

 

Department of Justice Youth Workers

Very little is said about their role or lack of success in the youth space, so we generally can only rely on the data, and by that measure, they have failed demonstrably.

They are referred to often in legislative discussions and are provided with powers to do their job. Still, there is something obviously and categorically wrong with the function of that government component.

These Youth workers aim to empower –  young people in custody to steer their lives in a more positive direction when they return to the community”.

.- https://www.justice.vic.gov.au/youthjusticecareers

What a nonsensical function because the courts have demonstrated they are determined to have no juveniles of any age in custody. This supports the view that the courts wear this as a badge of honour and a demonstration that they are not subservient to the legislation. It is very dangerous and challenging to our democracy.

So, theoretically, those youth workers at the Department of Justice have little to do, as no juveniles are returning to the community; they never left.

 

Lifting the age of criminal responsibility

If a government were ever grossly tone-deaf, this issue is a classic. The age of criminal responsibility is planned to move from 10 to 14 years during a youth crime tsunami that the CAA warned was coming nine years ago. This has got to be the stupidest act any government has embarked upon in the crime space.

All this is based on is a feared notion that all children will end up in jail – which they don’t. Ideological nonsense is based on no empirical evidence.

This rubbish sways a government that wants to be taken seriously and is in denial of reality, a dangerous place for any government.

Moreover, children in this age bracket only ever get charged as distinct from being put in jail if they are not Doli Incapax, meaning incapable of forming criminal intent.

The question, therefore, is what to do with these miscreants, and that is a million-dollar question that all the “experts” advising the government on the bill have failed to resolve because no solution is offered.

The non-solution

The non-solution was reported as,

‘Police would still retain the power to intervene with younger offenders, including having the power to transport ten and 11-year-olds that find themselves in trouble with the law.’

The solution

The solution remains as elusive as it always has, and this legislation will not help, as it lacks a fundamental guiding principle for children and young people: accountability.

If children, or anybody, knows there are no consequences for criminal behaviour, then that’s what they will do, and they won’t change. Why would they if they enjoy it?

The problem is a lack of foresight and understanding of children and juveniles.

Children and Juveniles who play sports are less likely to commit offences, and the key is that sport has rules, and if the rules are disobeyed, there are consequences. That applies whether they are spectators or participants. Those youths who regularly attend school are also less likely to offend than those who don’t; again, rules with consequences.

Most people of all ages live within society’s rules; if they digress, there are consequences.

A significant contributor by a long measure to our present youth crisis is that for criminal behaviour, there are no consequences if you break the rules.

The issue of incarceration of children has been the primary driver for this reform, based on the emotive argument ‘you can’t put children in jail’, but the problem is being viewed from the wrong perspective.

The reform must encompass the principle of consequences, as all the other approaches are ineffective.

Rather than demonise the broad ‘jail’ concept, we should look at how it can positively affect young people.

We have long advocated that the justice system is too afraid to deal with the crisis of putting a child in jail, and often, that is not serving the interest of the juvenile or child.

One of the current flaws is that the judiciary views young offenders when considering penalties from an adult perspective.

Young people have a different perspective of time than adults, and a week or so in detention, where they gain privileges by compliance, will have a marked positive impact on them.

Young people respond exceptionally well to rules as they offer some solace and security; however, if they have never been taught discipline and breaking rules has consequences, it doesn’t work.

We are not talking about traditional views of jail but of securing the young person without privileges for weeks, not years. Their behaviour dictates the time they are in secure accommodation, not the judiciary. As much as the judiciary thinks they know how a child will respond, they don’t because they are not there with the child 24/7.

There are significant omissions in the proposed Youth Justice Bill currently before Parliament.

The most significant omission in the Bill

As much as the parents of these miscreants (if they have any) are criticised for lack of action, the Bill does nothing to elevate the role of the parents or guardians.

Yes, there are hopeless parents responsible for troubled children, but the vast majority try; many try but are judged poorly, and there is no provision to help upskill parents, and they have all but been omitted from this Bill. They have an essential role to play in reinforcing other initiatives.

Home detention

Supported by electronic monitoring, home detention should be the first option for any child convicted of an offence. Children do not understand ‘Orders’, and the other plethora of titles bandied about in the Courtroom.

Many need to understand that if they walk out after a court hearing unpenalized after a hearing, they haven’t necessarily beaten the charges, and their bragging rights within their cohort are worthless.

The new sophisticated Electronic Monitoring (EM) devices can fix a virtual perimeter for the child to live within, while providing for their education, sports and other essential family functions.

The EM device can alert a parent their child is leaving the house, breaching physical or social media curfew rather than finding they are gone the following day. Home detention means they cannot exercise their free will outside boundaries, and the EM gives the parents the tools they need to enforce it.

Use of their social media devices also needs to be controlled, and privileges gained by good behaviour and compliance to the rules, allowing more access.

The length of time that the child is in home detention should be based on the child’s or youth’s behavioural improvement.

Home detention is a very cost-effective way to manage miscreant children and divert them out of their criminal behavioural cycle.

Although we won’t hold our breath, maybe the enlightened members of parliament will see this legislation for what it is: a half-baked hotchpotch of ideological one-liners masquerading as legislation for the betterment of the State and its children.

There indeed are flaws in the current system, and they should be fixed rather than embarking on an untried excursion. Fix it; don’t replace it with thousands of pages of convoluted rubbish that will only hurt our most vulnerable children.

Inevitably, this legislation will leave vulnerable children at further risk, will do nothing to prevent more victims from being traumatised and will further impede effective policing.

An urgent community-based examination of a better way forward might lead to a real improvement in our juvenile justice system.

Simply raising the age of criminal culpability will have the effect of increasing crime as there are no barriers to young people offending.

CRACKDOWN ON CRIME – THE WET LETTUCE LEAF APPROACH

CRACKDOWN ON CRIME – THE WET LETTUCE LEAF APPROACH

The CAA at least supports and acknowledges that the Government is trying to address the Youth Crime issue, but their approach has intrigued us.

It is obvious that those advising the government are so far off the mark that they make these new government approaches to juvenile crime almost laughable.

Unbelievably, this legislation has taken five years to develop, and it ends up something as inane as this.

The proposed changes to the relevant laws will not have any meaningful impact because they are designed to appease, not provide a solution.

The major flaw is how the juveniles who are the perpetrators react because that is critical to the success or otherwise.

In general, there will be no reaction because they will ignore any changes even if they hear about them, and that is highly problematic. They will not alter their behaviour if they even hear about it, and much less understand what these changes mean. As unrealistic as it may seem, youths commit crimes believing they won’t get caught, so sabre rattling at Spring Street is about as useless as hip pockets in underwear.

Let’s take a realistic look at the proposed changes,

  • Recruiting children for crime.

Once a child has entered into crime, their mentors are to them demi-gods, and the last thing they would do is cooperate in bringing them down. The drug scene is renowned for the loyalty users have to their dealers, and users rarely dob them in. The closest authorities get is that the perpetrator’s best mate is probably their dealer, but proving it is nigh on impossible.

The 10-year penalty only applies if recruiters are caught; given the understanding of most offenders, this will have no deterrent effect.
Contrary to popular belief, the recruiters are not some giant ogre, but most probably, they are the same or similar age to the juvenile being recruited. The age disparity of the young means that twelve months could have a substantial impact on the aspirations of the younger juvenile.

  • Using intensive supervision orders.

Empowering the Courts to apply intensive supervision orders is also next to useless because the perpetrators will not modify their ways, as being issued with that order has several flaws.

The child will generally have no idea what it means, and in their minds, they have beaten the charges (bragging rights). That occurs every time a child appears before a Court for a crime and walks out the door afterwards; irrespective of the outcome of their hearing, they have beaten it, they are free.

If Youth justice workers were effective, we would not be in the crisis we now face, so having them play a part in this space will only exacerbate the issue, and the problem will continue to escalate. History shows that there are never enough youth workers to effectively monitor young offenders.

Consider how often juvenile offenders now breach bail – another court order.

  • Youth Justice workers gaining judicial powers.

According to the media report, the legislation allows youth justice workers to exercise judicial power by deciding if and when a child might need to be electronically monitored (an ankle bracelet).

There are several critical failures in this approach.

Allowing youth justice workers to exercise judicial discretion in this manner will guarantee that the EM will never be used, as it is contrary to the ethos of youth workers.

Most significantly, it allows unqualified (in the area of Law) persons to make decisions that alter the conditions of a court-imposed Bail, effectively overruling a court’s decision.

This undermines the Justice system, and the power must never be granted.

Inevitably, this power will be sought by all Youth workers simply by adding Justice to their title, as is already the case.

A cursory search reveals no less than six occasions where the term Justice is used in their title or job description, but they are not part of the Justice Department. The courts are the rightful place to adjudicate matters such as bail conditions, and the Courts must not be undermined.

This must be non-negotiable.

No matter how well they may be intentioned, it is simply not a Youth workers role.

  • EM Monitoring

It is highly probable that the Youth Justice workers would not be capable of effectively applying the necessary restrictions to enable the child to have reasonable freedom but sufficient to achieve compliance with their bail conditions.

It is not simply putting on an EM and monitoring it; many technical aspects of its operation are necessary to be effective, and that involves determining the conditions/locations that the child will observe. We note that their parents are not even worth mentioning, and irrespective of their parenting skills, this is very sad.

The system must have integrity and accountability for the opportunity for Natural Justice to be applied to any change in bail conditions imposed by a Court. The victims and the perpetrator (and, critically, the perpetrator’s parents) must be able to input into the monitoring parameters. The courts are the final arbitrators to determine the parameters and conditions of the use of EM, the opportunity to exist for decisions to be tested, and the final application to be capable of review.

It should not be up to the worker or, for example, the police as they are intimately involved, but in the child’s best interest, the decisions have to be made on the evidence by a dispassionate court.

The approach proposed is not in the best interest of the child.

  • Intensive supervision orders

The name implies something so open-ended that it can prove useless to influencing the average 10 to18-year-old hell-bent on the thrill of their criminal endeavours.

If they ignore the bail conditions they already have, then the ‘Intense’ order will also be ignored; to children, it is just a word.

Youth workers and police will spend all their time tracking down the miscreants and taking them before the court to be re-released. The impact of reducing crime will be nil.

If a child misbehaves and requires upgraded supervision, they must be controlled by electronic monitoring.

  • Transferring prisoners 18-21 to adult prisons.

This significant announcement is totally unnecessary and no more than political spin.

The adult Parole Board has, for a long time, had those powers.  https://www.adultparoleboard.vic.gov.au/parole-process/youth-justice-transfers.

There may be a need for minor amendments to the CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES ACT 2005

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/cyafa2005252/

But the power already exists and properly is a matter for the Courts, not some bureaucratic whim.

  • Raising the age of criminal responsibility.

We have previously raised the stupidity of this move on many occasions as it will lead to more younger children being involved in crime, recruited at a younger and more impressionable age.

The idiots who proffer this notion that young children end up in jail have no contact with reality.

How often are juveniles jailed? Practically never.

We do not argue that children should be jailed; however, where the circumstances are required, a short term (weeks, not months) would be appropriate not only to protect the community but also to protect the children from themselves and achieve Court compliance.

Threats of jail are of no value unless the threats are followed through.

It was very recently that a child in this age category committed murder but was not prosecuted, as many children who commit serious crimes are not because the threshold of the child’s understanding to meet the level of intent required before a prosecution can proceed. The system generally was working fine, so why the need to fiddle with it, mainly as it will not reduce crime but exacerbate it.

The energy of those pushing this agenda should be redirected to something useful, like developing effective strategies to avoid children committing crimes in the first place. A novel idea.

  • Police Powers

Police would still retain the power, including having the power to transport 10 to and 11-year-olds who find themselves in trouble with the law.

The picture being painted is that this age group are too young to be prosecuted, so what do the police do with them when they are transported?

Take them out for a Maccas to reward their behaviour.

Somebody is telling porkies about juvenile crime rates, but the true picture is available at  https://www.heraldsun.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts-victoria/fresh-spike-in-youth-crime-latest-police-statistics-show/

“This would ensure the state’s youngest offenders aren’t given free rein to offend.” A statement attributed to a senior government source.

They can’t be serious or that naive, but they are. Heaven help us.

These changes took five years to develop, reflecting poorly on the government and its capabilities. In five years, and this is the best they can come up with? Heads must roll.

It will be up to the public in two years to decide the value of this strategy, and in our view, there will be no tangible improvement in the situation from this scheme, which might be reflected in the ballot box.

We are just going to have to grow many more lettuces.

NEW CRIME DATA REVEALS SHOCKING EXTENT OF VICTORIA’S YOUTH CRIME WAVE

WOKE JOKE MEETS REALITY SHOCK

Pic. courtesy Herald Sun

Victoria Police have been roundly and grossly unfairly criticised, as reported by ABC today, after a confidential briefing on Youth Gangs to the Justice Department policymakers in May of 2023, which the woke attendees attacked.

But this report based on FIO submissions says more about the ineptitude and professional incompetence of the woke complainers than an error of judgment by the Police.

Their primary beef was it was too graphic, showing real situations. Although all attendees were pre-warned that the content was graphic, many of the attendees did not like information that was not sugar-coated for their sensitivities.

See –

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-27/victoria-police-youth-crime-presentation-labelled-racist/103877374

The story relates to an attempt by VicPol to give ‘alleged’ professionals involved in the youth space a better understanding and insight into the problem they are dealing with. Decisions made in ignorance are never good.

This seminar was organised at the behest of Justice Department Juvenile Division members. It was attended by ‘dozens of staff’ from the Department and some from the Premier’s Department. Other stakeholders were also invited.

The conference lasted two and a half hours and featured actual CCTV footage of incidents involving youth gangs.

All invitees were informed by email the day before that the presentation would contain very graphic material that may be unpleasant to some. The email unambiguously read,

“graphic footage that some attendees may find confronting, and people might want to “excuse themselves” if they found it distressing.”.

The numerous complaints had one theme: denouncing their exposure to reality.

Among the complaints published by the ABC were,

  • Multiple staff said the warning was insufficient for what was shown,
  • One staff member said to put it “bluntly”, police “should have said ‘we are about to show you someone getting stabbed to death’.”
  • “Very graphic and violent footage” from a “range of serious violent incidents including stabbings and still images involving young people and adults allegedly involved both as victims and perpetrators”.
  • “Unclear purpose of showing [this] video is.”
  • While several people acknowledged the “traumatic experiences” officers faced and the need for policymakers to “understand the practical and operational realities” of frontline police work, they didn’t think the presentation helped achieve this. (Policy makers preferring to stay in ignorant bliss)
  • One person commented they were “disturbed” by “the casual way the violent imagery was discussed”, and another said the commentary was “upsetting … flippant, and racist in several points.”
  • “I question why the image of this person’s face was kept in the presentation.”
  • One staff member’s notes of the presentation said, “‘n-word’… completely gratuitous”, and the photos were “all POC [people of colour], no blurred faces”, including one of a “bloody wound to face” and one of someone “in a pool of blood.

Fancy the very people responsible for Youth Justice are grumpy because they have to confront what they are supposed to be doing as their day job: rein in Youth crime.

The next step is to arrange for these same people to be confronted by the victims of their failures. They can then explain to them why the offences happened.

This response from the people responsible for much of the failure of Youth Crime strategies demonstrates that most of them were at the conference to evaluate its wokeness rather than address the issues they were confronted with and employed to address. And their complaints to dehumanise the perpetrators by blocking their faces is puerile.

An advantage of taking the feigned or otherwise shock and horror and, heaven forbid, having to listen to emails read out sent by Gang members that contained the n-word, most probably by a coloured Gang member, is that they can absolve themselves from responsibility and remain in ignorant denial of reality.

This strategy of using the ‘woke outrage’ more and more to deflect the issue is to avoid having to respond or justify their performance. Create the diversion from their responsibility and prove how good they are by highlighting woke breaches.

This exposé has uncovered how out of touch the people responsible for youth policy are and why many of them must now reconsider their career options because it is evident by their admission that they are not competent to be employed in the field of Youth policy.

If they don’t voluntarily move, the administration must remove them for their own good. If action of that sort is not taken, it exposes the State to litigation from attendees who develop some disorder.

One of the most egregious alleged failings of VicPol was to refer to a 13-year-old as an offender for life. That outrage exposes the depth of incompetence these bureaucrats have.

A 13-year-old criminal is inevitably an offender for life unless held to account for their actions. That will be the inevitable outcome caused by the policy to lift the age of criminal responsibility, where there will be no sanctions or other intervention, albeit they knew full well their actions were criminal.

This outrage is more about the attendees being challenged about bad policy to lift the age of criminal responsibility.

We are outraged that while the policymakers want to lift the age of criminal responsibility, they have put forward no strategies or policy on what to do with violent underage perpetrators, a danger to the community and themselves.

Just letting them free to run amok again, as this policy dictates, is a disastrous outcome for the community and the child.

It would be interesting to see if these policymakers will ever be held to account for their failed policy; probably not, which is why they devise outrageous policies.

Instead of the policymakers trying to out ‘woke’ each other, how about they focus on the job at hand and find out more about what happens on the front line of Policing?

When they have done that, their policy machinations may be considered authentic.

It would be very interesting to know what these bureaucrats working in the government bubble have achieved that led to a reduction in youth crime and how many of them were required to achieve that outcome.

As to their bleating, this was not a public event, and the niceties dished out by the media do not apply—this was a reality and a professional life check.

The most disparaging aspect was that Deputy Commissioner Patterson apologised, and he should not have.

VicPol had nothing to apologise about; they did their job in the best interests of juvenile miscreants and the community.

They could have been rightly criticised if they attempted to sugarcoat the briefing.

BULLYING SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTOR TO ABSENTEEISM

BULLYING SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTOR TO ABSENTEEISM

If we want to save our children, we must learn quickly, and Victoria’s Police must prioritise proactive measures to reduce crime.

In an environment where police resources are stretched, it will take strident and clever management to achieve the balance between detecting crime and stopping it in the first place; the latter is the only way to effectively reduce crime in the long term.

The Chief Commissioner’s greatest challenge is achieving effective balance and allowing VicPol to walk and chew gum at the same time.

A recent article in the Herald Sun, BULLYING REVEALED AS TOP REASON KIDS ARE SKIPPING SCHOOL by Susie O’Brien (13th May 2024), raises an argument based on empirical evidence produced by Monash University that supports the hypothesis of the CAA article ‘YOUTH CRISIS SOLUTION’, which sets out what must be done if we want to address the problem.

In other words, bullying is a significant contributor to absenteeism from schools.

Identifying truancy and its primary cause explains, in part, why we have a severe decline in academic levels. This correlates directly to the lack of discipline in schools and contributes substantially to community antisocial and criminal activity. Most crime at this level is relatively minor; however, it is the precursor for a child to live a life of crime.

We cannot expect teachers to solve this problem alone. After years of entrenched poor discipline, the reality is that some students and parents will oppose the new paradigm of discipline. This puts educators in a precarious, perhaps, dangerous position, so their role in achieving and maintaining school discipline must be supported.

As part of the Police Force charter, it must prevent crime. Using police to augment the role of Teachers is a practical and essential method of reducing discipline breaches and antisocial behaviour. Protecting students and staff from aggression is a vital police responsibility that cannot be abrogated.

The Teacher’s authority ends at the school gate, but the problems generally extend well beyond that; therefore, the solution is to use integrated Police specifically trained to deal with these matters.

Nearly half of all Victorian students are regularly truant.

‘High school students are now missing a month a year on average, adding up to more than a full year of lost classes throughout 13 years of schooling.’ -Herald Sun Suzie O’Brien

And the impact on our children is also recognised internationally.

‘Australia’s bullying rate is three times the international average and has been highlighted as a “major issue of concern” by the OECD’. -Herald Sun Suzie O’Brien

The figures, when broken down, are alarming.

‘Overall, just 62 percent of Victorian students from years one to ten are meeting attendance benchmarks, compared to 79 percent in 2015 – a 17 percent drop.

This means 340,000 students out of 895,000 are regularly missing school.

Students in year nine are the most disengaged, with only 50 percent going to school 90 percent of the time or more.

This compares to 70 per cent of students in 2015, the first year the Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and Reporting Authority collated the figures.-Herald Sun Suzie O’Brien

It is worrying that 340,00 students regularly miss school, raising an important question of what do these children do when not at school.

Most of them will not be diligently working at their academic furtherance, but too many contribute to the crime rate or develop social skills that will manifest as life outside the law and community norms.

‘Idle hands are the devil’s workshop and idle lips (or minds using social media) are his mouthpiece’.

Although we acknowledge the importance of this article in highlighting this problem, the Police themselves recognised these issues many years ago. However, supposedly enlightened Police Commissioners decided that the strategy and effort were not warranted, and even in light of empirical data that the initiative worked, they cancelled the essential programs.

Police In Schools – a curriculum-based (as opposed to recent iterations) program that could be measured and was found to be effective by Monash University.

New Start  –         is an innovative program that connects police and teachers to ensure children attend school.

Blue Light       –    Although Blue Light has survived, it is a shadow of its former self, due directly to efforts by VicPol to close it down. Incentives for police to give up their own time to operate the discos were removed, as was any other support for this program.

We acknowledge the difficulty the Police administration has in diverting Police from reactive roles to the cause of proactive ones, where the problems are avoided before they manifest. Rather than police picking up the pieces of shattered lives of victims caused partly by this problem faced by management.

This conundrum boils down to leadership and the strength of that leadership to make the necessary adjustments to deal with the long-term effects caused by the failure to address these problems at the core. Unfortunately, they must look past the quick-fix arrest solution because we all know that for most social issues, Police cannot arrest their way to solving the problem.

History will always examine an organisation’s performance in light of its leader’s effectiveness, which is no different for policing.

We can only hope that the current Chief Commissioner will leave a legacy not of sameness and incompetence, as some of his recent predecessors displayed, but one of authentic leadership by holistically handling the issue of Policing and putting in place measurable proactive initiatives that make a difference, addressing the issues before problems arise.

It is argued that:

‘We cannot afford the police resources to do it, but we cannot afford the consequences of not acting proactively’.

VicPol has the ability to walk and chew gum.

YOUTH CRISIS – A SOLUTION

YOUTH CRISIS – A SOLUTION

There are conga lines of so-called experts who rabidly try to bend ideology to point out what is wrong and who is to blame for the youth crisis. With few exceptions, they fail to put forward a solution. However, there is one guarantee: They believe it is not their fault, and the pants-shiners will continue to pontificate rubbish until authentic leadership evolves.

The CAA has long identified the problem as failing to engage with young people in a systematic and targeted way that can be measured. Failing to understand the young people’s perceptions of time, inconsistent messages, and threats of sanctions for bad behaviour that are never carried out exacerbate the problem.

Making excuses for criminal behaviour by children is the greatest crime inflicted on our children and is predominately the primary reason for the crime upsurge.

Although necessary, focusing on recidivist offenders is purely reactive and has the reverse effect on crime rates. Successful arrests have not dented the crime stats but perpetuated their escalation.

The most challenging function of policing is proactive policing; if we want to see meaningful crime reduction, proactive policing is the only practical option to guide a child from exploring criminality and, subsequently, drugs.

Criminality is a learnt behaviour, so the obverse can also be taught.’

As the CAA’s policy focuses on solutions rather than carping about the problem, we propose developing a holistic, coordinated approach to deal with it.

Our proposal will not be any ‘silver bullet’ approach, which is doomed to failure as the focus will inevitably target one sector, and any success in that sector is quickly voided because it fails to address the feeder cohort of miscreants.

Targeting all resources at the most visible recidivist offenders to curb their behaviour will continue to be a massive mistake as young people grow to fill the anti-social void created by any success against the recidivists.

There is no better example than the illicit drug trade, where locking up a dealer or intercepting drugs en route makes little difference as there is a line of hopefuls ready to fill the void. At the same time, we acknowledge that the Drug issue is, in part, a Health issue, but not exclusively, another mistake. Whether it is the health or the criminal sphere, action must be focused on the pre-addiction or recidivist stage; tackling the issue before it becomes a problem for the child and the community is the only hope for a solution; there are no other options.

Police cannot arrest their way out of the drug problem, no more than they can the juvenile one, as demonstrated over recent years as the problems grow.

The concept and value of proactive policing were identified and successfully implemented thirty-five years ago. It successfully reduced crime markedly and was discarded in 2006 by the then-Chief Commissioner, who did not understand the concept. Successive Chief Commissioners did not revive it, who saw arrests as the only solution. They continued the failed strategies of the time, even in the face of empirical evidence of the proactive programs’ effectiveness.

THE CAA PLAN

We plan to have a simple, multifaceted, coordinated approach in which young people are guided from pre-school to completion of their education, making them less likely to engage in criminal activity and, paradoxically, drugs.

The role of parents is critical; everybody blames them, but we need to engage them.

We believe it is essential that parents are at least armed with parenting skills rather than taking the current approach of ‘winging it’ and praying they have the skills to be effective.

Fortunately, the majority of parents get it right.

THE CODE

From day one of pre-school through the whole education process, every educational facility must establish a code of conduct that sets the required standards of behaviour that are then taught and enforced.

If parents have an issue with the code, then they can take their child to an alternate education facility with a code that is more to their liking.

Teachers must be empowered to deal with breaches without retribution from the Education Authorities or parents.  The Code will minimise this.

The penalties for breaches of the code must be flexible enough to cover whatever situation arises.  Being barred from the playground for a period or after-school detention could be examples of the consequences we envisage.  Other measures may be appropriate according to individual circumstances.

Parents and guardians must be informed that this code of conduct will be enforced.

PART 1 PRE-SCHOOL – parental training and exposing children to compliance/authority.

It has been claimed that the path to drug addiction starts by the time a child is six, which coincides with the child starting at primary school.

That logic would also equally apply to any antisocial behaviour and start to impact what will eventually be a failed education, a recognised driver of antisocial and criminal behaviour in a child.

Pre-school is the ideal time to start the project by educating the parents on child behavioural issues.

The role of parents is essential throughout this plan, including compulsory attendance at parent education sessions for preschooler parents delivered by a child behavioural psychologist.

It is critical to support preschool teachers with behavioural support for children and parents whom teachers identify as needing specialist support. As educators’ authority stops at the school gate, specialist Police must become involved, as the problem is most likely at home, not at school.

Police must become a part of the child’s school experience to support the development of the child’s behaviour. Building familiarity between the preschoolers and a police member is the building block for children to understand authority and reinforce the right and wrong concepts.

Establishing respect without coercion, promises, or threats is the key.

Central to the police role is the continuity of association with the children. The children learn that while the police are responsible for maintaining law and order, they are also people with whom a personal relationship can be developed.

Apart from the benefits to the child, having a good experience with the police role model, if reinforced, influences their behaviour in a positive way for a lifetime.

Spasmodic Police interaction during this time will not achieve the goals set; Police involvement must be consistent, predictable, and planned for the child. Simply taking a Police car to a school to impress the students is an absolute failure.

PART 2: PRIMARY EDUCATION -Following the preschool strategy, the Primary strategy introduces a scaled approach over that learning journey.

By the time a child moves to secondary school, they will have developed advanced social skills, an understanding of their responsibilities and the benefits of not breaking the law, and self-discipline skills to help them. Guiding children through this process is critical.

Additionally, parents who are given an understanding of dealing with prepubescent children are also better equipped to guide their children through this critical next stage of their lives.

Again, Police play a critical role in Primary schools, starting with relationship building with the younger children and direct involvement in the school community as a vital resource for the school and the school community.

The Police’s role in preventing crime through their presence cannot be overstated. Making schools a safe place where learning is nurtured is vital.

The Police role starts as an extension of the preschool strategy. Progressing through the preparatory stage, the police assist with school discipline, protect teachers, staff and students, and help develop a safe learning environment, which is critical to the effectiveness of any learning experience.

Improved academic achievements in a safe environment develop children’s confidence, which is essential for avoiding a life of crime.

It is in the later stage of the Primary years that the children’s mentor should introduce the drug issue, helping to prepare them to deal with exposure to drugs at the secondary level.

It’s a bit crazy waiting for them to face the drug issue ill-prepared without adequate skills; then successful resistance is less likely.

PART 3 SECONDARY EDUCATION—The introduction of Super Schools was seen as an opportunity to improve the education of young people, but putting 2-3 thousand children in one place has created a series of critical unintended consequences.

There have been incidents of bullying, intimidation, assaults on teachers and other violent behaviour. This creates an environment where students are exposed more easily to crime and illicit drugs. Drug dealers can hide in plain sight in the crowd. Teachers are more vulnerable to violence from students and parents, both within the school environment and within the community.

If you believe that drug dealers aren’t waiting for every influx of new children at a secondary school to ply their wares, you are naive. The dealer who will probably coerce your child into the drug scene is perhaps wearing a school uniform.

‘It would not be unreasonable to conclude that Australia’s significant downturn in academic achievement in world rankings can be attributed to the breakdown of school discipline.’

The impact of Super Schools directly impacts all their students’ capacity to learn, and students’ learning failures increase their propensity to be attracted to criminal behaviour and illicit drugs.

For this reason and others, a Police presence must be developed for each school.

Embedding Police at every secondary school will be a resource nightmare for VicPol, but it is the type of activity that will most positively impact the booming crime rate.

The police’s essential functions would be to,

  • Ensure pupils go to school.( investigate truancy)
  • Liaise with the courts and others to ensure any sanctions imposed on pupil miscreants have as little impact on their education as possible.
  • Provide early intervention avenues for children displaying anti-social traits.
  • Protect teachers and other staff.
  • Protect children in the school environment from exposure to illicit drugs. Schools are fertile ground for drug syndicates to recruit users, couriers, and dealers.
  • Investigate crimes committed against teachers, other staff, or students and deploy proactive strategies to protect them.
  • Assist support services by mentoring the child to comply with specialist advice.

Police involved must retain their operational qualifications so that in case of an emergency, they can be withdrawn from the program in a declared emergency for operational deployment.

Drawing on the principles of the previously discontinued Police school program, because it worked, police in the school’s program must deliver a package with a core structure of ten themes, namely:

  • the role of police in society;
  • the legal system;
  • rights, rules and responsibilities;
  • consequences of our actions;
  • keeping ourselves and others safe;
  • drug and alcohol education;
  • personal development;
  • anti-bullying strategies;
  • domestic violence avoidance;
  • road safety.

These ten themes would closely interlink with the school curriculum, thus enhancing the program’s relevance to the school community and the learning of the young people concerned.

The training of specialist police for this program is not insignificant and needs to be tailored for each sector. It is not simply a matter of plonking a Police member in a school and assuming that will work; whilst anything is better than nothing, the current practice of spasmodic untrained police visiting schools from time to time has not produced any positive impact on the juvenile crime rate that we are aware of.

The CAA has advocated elsewhere the importance of developing a Police Reserve for retired members, which may augment the demand of operational members for these tasks, particularly at the lower levels.

While there is no doubt that threatening and assaulting teachers is unacceptable behaviour, having the potential of all students in a school or class compromised, adversely impacting their education, is unconscionable.

After all, this behaviour is not just kids misbehaving; it is criminal.

The role of police in preventing crime puts the responsibility squarely with the Chief Commissioner.

Any Chief Commissioner who believes police can arrest their way out of the problem has and will continue to fail by following the reactive approach without properly embracing the proactive function, which brings into question their intellectual acuity. Historically, a series of commissioners have failed that test, and we are now paying the price.

Reactive policing will always be necessary, but the proactive approach will reduce crime; the key is that they are both critical, but one can’t succeed without the other, the Yin and Yang of policing.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Another area of great concern for the community is Domestic violence or aggression, which may lead to violence not only impacting the warring parties but significantly their children.

How children of school age can survive the war at home and the war of bullying at school is a load that they cannot be expected to bear.

It is also probable that children who live in these households will develop a sense of normality in their parent’s behaviour as a defence mechanism to deal with the trauma.

This normalisation will tend to become a trait that the children may exhibit when they enter relationships later in life, so if we ever wanted to have a meaningful impact on domestic violence, then this initiative will go a long way in demonstrating to children that this and other sorts of aggressive behaviour are unacceptable.

DEALING WITH JUVENILE OFFENDERS.

Once a child enters the justice system, there is a reduced chance that their behaviour will be modified unless they want it to be. To alter their behaviour, they must learn that bad behaviour leads to undesirable consequences from a child’s perspective, but in most cases, they have to grow out of it.

The process starts when Police arrest and charge the youth with a criminal offence. Police have discretion, which is critical for the perpetrator’s future and whether they will be recidivists.

The younger the child with a propensity for crime receives an official warning, the better the chance of altering their behaviour.

Police discretion is exercised on any child over ten. They can receive a Police caution, be issued with a summons to Court, a court attendance notice, or be arrested and charged and, where appropriate, bailed. The last and least desirable for a child’s future is being remanded in custody, which is rarely applied.

RAISING THE AGE OF CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY.

Raising the age at which children can have criminal intent is an unnecessary step that will add to the problem, not assist in it.

This new philosophy means young children cannot be accountable for their actions and are incapable of committing a crime. Although their action still creates victims, it is beyond belief in these allegedly enlightened times that a child can be allowed to view their behaviour as acceptable and beyond consequences.

Ask the Victim of a home invasion what difference in the severity and impact on the family was eased by the perpetrator being underage. Having anybody standing over you in the middle of the night, the perpetrator’s age is entirely irrelevant.

‘The human body’s response to a penetrating knife does not alter by the age of the person delivering the thrust. The body doesn’t know how old the assailant is.’

What has been forgotten is that the Police caution the majority of the younger cohort before they end up in the Juvenile Justice system; these age changes kill that program not only to the disadvantage of the child but also to leave the parents in an unenviable position as to what to do next to help guide their child.

Raising the age for criminal responsibility to fourteen ‘hangs the parents out to dry.’

Police actively try to avoid feeding children into that system as they witness its failures firsthand. These changes will mean that the cautioning option will no longer be available to help divert young first offenders.

An argument often touted is that young children cannot develop criminal intent. However, the law, as it stands, does not allow a child to be charged criminally if they do not understand that the action was criminal. So, if that is the change’s intent, it is unnecessary.

‘Children between 10 and 14’

‘When a child between the ages of 10 and 14 is charged with an offence, the prosecution must show that he or she understood the act was a crime and that the behaviour was wrong’. 

INEFFECTIVE COURT SYSTEM,

Our antiquated court system needs fixing. With the courts held accountable for their effectiveness, they must bear much of the blame for the current crisis.

The only benefit of altering the age of accountability is a statistical one. It doesn’t help to divert kids from more crime but shows a decrease in the number of youth offenders charged; ‘smoke and mirrors.’

Nobody is interested in putting ten-year-olds, or for that matter any child, in detention unless it is necessary to protect the child or the community; however, having no consequences can be just as harmful to a child.

A properly developed home detention system is the answer, as it puts resourced parents back in charge of their children.

USE OF SECURITY BRACELETS ON JUVENILES.

With some imagination and the use of AI, an ankle bracelet can achieve substantial compliance with bail conditions and impose a penalty, such as home detention.

Much work must be done to develop a system for ring-fencing the child’s movements. This allows a child to attend school, sporting commitments, medical appointments, Court attendances, and other approved activities away from home.

HOME DETENTION- PARENTAL ROLE.

There has been much criticism of the parents’ role or lack thereof in managing their miscreant child. The reality is probably not necessarily a lack of will, but skills and a tendency of ‘the system’ to assume the parents cannot deal with an issue, so they are excluded.

Home detention managed by a tracking device will restore the parents to their roles and responsibilities when managing children on bail or as part of any sentence.

With some professional support, this process can achieve long-term compliance by the child, particularly when any breaches of conditions can extend the detention, and repeated non-compliance can ultimately lead to incarceration.

The key to this initiative is that the time for Home Detention must be carefully managed to ensure that the period or periods, depending on the circumstances, are not long; otherwise, the initiative’s potency will be diluted.

‘Putting an anti-bark collar on a dog only works until the dog becomes accustomed to it.’

The best results will initially be achieved over weeks, perhaps increasing sequentially depending on the youth’s compliance. Good compliance reduces home detention time or extends more freedoms to the ring-fence. Non-compliance or breaches reduce privileges, not by the parent but by the ring fence settings.

MEASURING SUCCESS.

The advantage of this plan, and we accept that it is still a skeleton, is that accurate effectiveness measurement can be achieved. Thus, it can be modified while in operation if required, ensuring the maximum beneficial result.

It also has the advantage of being built organically, from the ground up and developing as police training is achieved.

DRUGS

It would be naive to imagine, although they are kids we are talking about, that drugs do not play a significant role in the issue, both as users and participants in drug crime.

The lowering of the age of criminality will be exploited by the drug industry, using children as mules and in-time users. The drug industry will be very appreciative of the Government providing them with a supply of operatives exempt from prosecution, enabling a stable workforce for their industry. How is the community going to deal with the younger addicts this change will create?

Because children are exempted from prosecution, then access to intelligence is also severed, again protecting the cartels.

Whose side is the Government on, good or evil?

Like the Injecting room where the unintended consequences, the creation of a Drug dealers’ hub and the capacity for addicts to trial increased dosages, a facility that does not help addicts beat their addiction is counterintuitive.

How a government can be suckered or coerced into providing a significant hub for the illicit drug industry to the benefit of cartels is beyond reasonable comprehension.

Governments are empowered to create laws to protect the community, not empower the illegal drug trade.

A supply of mules, dealers and users will further reward the cartels, and the children attracted will not be able to be charged even if the trade permeates a school and exposes more children to drugs. The drug operators don’t care about age or long-term effects; their motivation is greed.

Has anybody given thought to how these underage mules, dealers and addicts might be managed?

CONCLUSION

Additional Police, Social Workers, and Child psychologists will be required, so the exercise is not cheap to plan and operate. However, it will be a lot more affordable than what we are currently facing: watching young lives being ruined, victims permanently damaged, and education standards continuing to erode, all due to a lack of action and, most importantly, leadership.

This proposal will result in substantial cost savings compared to the vast bricks-and-mortar investments mooted by the Queensland Children’s Commissioner Nationally.

Grown organically from the ground up, this proposal will be more effective if managed at a local level. It will be able to adjust to local needs and not be operated by a remote bureaucracy.

The target should be to develop the preschool sector first and then sequentially at the primary and secondary levels. That allows for effective management throughout the development stages.

Giving the community ownership will prevent it from becoming just another quango, for some to say – “Look what we have done.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOUTH CRIME, PREVENTION AND PROTECTION THE TENETS OF THE PROBLEM

YOUTH CRIME, PREVENTION AND PROTECTION THE TENETS OF THE PROBLEM

Almost everything published about youth crime revolves around dealing with young offenders.  While this is important, what is more important is preventing young people from offending in the first place.  Rehabilitation programs for young offenders are reactive, not proactive.  Until this basic truth is acknowledged, we will always be playing catch up in dealing with youth crime issues.

The CAA has recently published an article entitled, “CALL TO ACTION – YOUTH CRIME,” in which we outlined the need for a Police in Schools Program, such as the one introduced in Victoria in 1989 that ran until 2016, to teach young people the basic tenets of good citizenship.  A proven program that achieved excellent results in turning youngsters away from crime.

Although similar programs are implemented worldwide, Victoria has failed to re-introduce an effective version into schools in this State.

Part of the Victoria Police’s statutory function is Crime Prevention. Victoria Police Act 2013, Section 11, (c). It is incumbent on Victoria Police to take every possible step to stem the tide of crime, and this is particularly so in relation to Juvenile crime, which is out of control.

Early intervention, where it is apparent that young people are at risk of lapsing into a life of vice or crime, also needs to be a priority.

The provision for dealing with young people who were likely to lapse into a life of vice or crime was abolished in Victoria. This phrase appeared on some child welfare records and was a convenient term for one of the definitions of a neglected child. Specifically, it referred to a child who was at risk of falling into a career of vice or criminal behaviour.

Some people, like doctors, nurses, midwives, teachers, school principals and police officers, must tell the department if they believe a child is being harmed or at serious risk of harm.

The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) (Child Protection) must investigate every report. This can include speaking to the child, family members and other people involved with the family.

As each family’s situation is different the department may decide not to do anything, or they might get involved with the family for a short or long time.

Child protection

If anyone has formed a reasonable belief that a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm as a result of abuse or neglect and their parent has not or is unlikely to protect them from harm, they can make a report to Child Protection.

Meeting the needs of children and making sure they are safe in the family is a shared responsibility between individuals, the family, the community and the government. When adults caring for children do not follow through with their responsibilities, are abusive or exploit their positions of power, then child protection is empowered to investigate the concerns and intervene to protect the child legally when required.

The Victorian Child Protection Service is specifically targeted to support those children and young people at risk of harm or where families are unable to protect them.

The main functions of Child Protection are to:

Investigate matters where it is alleged that a child is at risk of significant harm.

Refer children and families to services that assist in providing the ongoing safety and well-being of children.

Make applications to the Children’s Court if the child’s safety cannot be ensured within the family.

Administer protection orders granted by the Children’s Court.

During 2019-20, 174,700 (31 per 1,000) Australian children received child protection services (investigation, care and protection order and/or were in out-of-home care).  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were eight times as likely as non-Indigenous children to have received child protection services. Children from geographically remote areas were more likely to be the subject of substantiation or be in out-of-home care than those from major cities.  Over 5,300 children were reunified with family during 2019–20.  Sixty-seven per cent of children who received child protection services were repeat clients.  This figure alone shows that the system is not effective.

Overall, what seems to be sound policy and practice is clearly not working.

It is not working because all this, although expressed in proactive terms, is actually reactive, intervention occurring only when a problem already exists.

What is needed is proactive programs that prevent problems from arising.

When parents are failing in their responsibilities, the only resolution is through education, and school alone gives access to almost all children where they can be given guidance and life skills.

In terms of youth crime, a partnership between teachers and police is a proven formula that does make a difference.

Mentoring and Youth Support

A mentor who spends time helping a young person is invaluable.  They can help a young person with things, for example:

Schoolwork;

Coping with bullying;

Finding employment;

Strategies to stay safe;

Coping with peer pressure:

Avoiding alcohol and illicit drugs.

Youth inclusion and support panels made up of people like local youth or social workers to work with young people to make sure they get access to local services that will help them stay out of trouble.

Bail

The expanded factors in bail laws require the Courts to consider the potentially adverse effects of a child being held in custody.  Rather than reducing re-offending, research shows that placing children in a custodial environment increases the likelihood that they will reoffend. They are exposed to violence and negative peer groups, and displaced from family and education opportunities. Children leave custody with deteriorated mental health and an elevated risk of self-harm. The new considerations require a Court to confront the consequences of detaining a child – potential recidivism and harm to the child – which are factors that should not sit comfortably with most decision-makers.

However, the factors outlined above exist only when sensible, viable alternatives are not considered.

An alternative to custody in many cases is home detention where the child can, as a condition of bail, be required to stay at home with an exception of being able to attend school, which should be mandatory.

Compliance with such a condition can be achieved through the use of an electronic tracking device, which, in this age of technology, can be designed to look like an ordinary wristwatch to avoid any stigmatisation of the child.

A further condition of bail must be a prohibition of fraternising with any co-offenders to break the nexus of peer pressure.

Sentencing

The bail provisions set out above could equally be adopted as a sentencing option, thus avoiding the possibility of a child being further corrupted in a custodial situation.

Monitoring

The financial savings would be such that establishing a Monitoring Centre to keep track of young people on bail or under sentence would be a fraction of the costs of incarceration.

Recommendations

Immediately reintroduce a Police in Schools Program, such as the one introduced in Victoria in 1989 that ran until 2016, to teach young people the basic tenets of good citizenship.

Establish other proactive programs of interest to young people where they can express themselves safely and lawfully, be that through sport, music, art or anything else that is appropriate.

Establish mentoring and youth support panels.

Introduce bail practices as outlined in this article.

Adopt a sentencing regime that uses home detention in appropriate cases.

CALL TO ACTION – YOUTH CRIME

30th Jan 2024

Youth crime is out of control in Victoria. What is the Government and the Courts doing to curb the current crime pandemic?  Absolutely nothing.

The Community Advocacy Alliance Inc. (CAA) warned of this almost nine years ago.  Sadly, our warning was ignored.

People in Victoria do not feel safe from youth gangs and young, aggressive, violent, offenders. Violent home invasions, carjackings and theft of cars in endemic and serious assaults, often involving knives, have become commonplace.

How can this blight on society be curbed?

Firstly, the idiocy of raising the age of criminality to fourteen must be abandoned. It is ideology overriding common sense.

Secondly, the Judiciary must adopt a more realistic regime on penalising youth criminal behaviour.  Repeatedly bailing young offenders without imposing strict, enforced conditions is lunacy.  Curfews and electronic tracking must be immediately introduced. Prohibiting contact with co-accused is also necessary to break the cycle of peer pressure.  Home detention instead of jail is a viable option with an exception to allow attendance at school which must be mandatory.

Thirdly, a proactive regime of crime prevention is required.  Making arrests is reactive not proactive.

Victoria Police, as part of its mandate, is required to fight, reduce and prevent crime.

In 1989 Victoria Police introduced a Police in Schools (PISP) Program.

This program was delivered by police trained for the purpose.

PISP – The aims of the program were:

  • to reduce the incidence of crime in society;
  • to develop a better relationship between police and youth in the community;
  • to create in young people an understanding of the police role in the structure of society;
  • to extend the concept of the crime prevention into the Victorian school system;
  • to equip young people with the necessary skills to avoid dangerous and threatening situations.

Along with these specific aims, behavioural objectives were set, and after participation in the program, young people were able to:

  • demonstrate the values, responsibilities and obligations current society deems valuable;
  • state the consequences of a person’s actions regarding unlawful behaviour;
  • demonstrate sufficient self-esteem and skill to avoid or reduce and delay the uptake of illicit drugs and resist engaging in anti-social behaviour;
  • engage in positive interactions and consultation with police members:
  • state the basic role of police and the legal system in Victoria.

In order to achieve the above aims and objectives, the program delivered a core structure of seven themes, namely:

  • the role of police in society;
  • the legal system;
  • rights, rules and responsibilities;
  • consequences of our actions;
  • keeping ourselves and others safe;
  • drug and alcohol education;
  • personal development.

In a reintroduced PISP there should be three further themes added:

  • anti-bullying strategies;
  • domestic violence avoidance;
  • road traffic safety;

All of these ten themes would closely interlink with the school curriculum thus enhancing the relevance of the program to the school community and the learning of the young people concerned.

Students, following their participation in the PISP, were able to:

  • demonstrate the values, responsibilities and obligations current society deems valuable;
  • state the consequences of a person’s actions regarding unlawful behaviour;
  • demonstrate sufficient self-esteem and skill to say no to drug abuse and other antisocial behaviour;
  • engage in positive interactions and consultation with police members;
  • state the basic role of police and the legal system in Victoria;
  • develop a better understanding between police and youth in society;
  • gain an understanding of the police role in the structure of society;
  • be equipped with the necessary skills to avoid dangerous and threatening situations.

The PISP was a resounding success as confirmed by an academic review conducted by Monash University, the results released in 2004.

Where the PISP operated there was a sharp reduction in graffiti, other acts of vandalism, petty crime and anti-social behaviour.  Violent home invasions, carjacking and serious assaults were unknown or very rare.

Many teachers reported that those in their charge were more respectful of them, each other, and were better behaved in class and easier to teach.  Many teachers also reported that they felt safer in the school environment.

Curbing disruptive behaviour in classes also ensured the education of students wanting to learn was not interfered with.  This was and is an important consideration.  The current youth lawlessness also contributes to the drop in literacy standards in our education system, as this lawlessness inevitably seeps into schools.

In 2006 the then Chief Commissioner, Nixon, in an act of proactive policing vandalism, abolished the program after an internal review reported the program was producing excellent results but was poorly managed.

The CAA demands the Government immediately address the youth crime issues by:

  • Abandoning the move to raise the age of criminality.
  • Requiring the Judiciary to adopt a more realistic regime on penalising youth criminal behaviour.
  • Requiring the Victoria Police to reintroduce a PISP and properly resource this Program.

If no action is taken, it will be inevitable police will have to be stationed in schools to maintain law and order, enabling schools to function.  A reintroduced PISP is by far the better option as part of the education process.

We, the citizens of Victoria, have had enough of juvenile crime.

JUVENILE BAIL, SHOULD WE, OR SHOULDN’T WE?

JUVENILE BAIL, SHOULD WE, OR SHOULDN’T WE?

As the debate over Bail laws for juveniles rages, the proponents on the side of the ‘relaxation of laws’, ‘for the good of the child’ have lost sight of reality.

The two concepts, ‘relaxation of laws’ and ‘for the good of the child’ is an oxymoron.

A sceptic may also conclude that this move is a cynical government strategy to show how the youth problem has diminished by excluding large numbers of the youngest cohort from the statistical criminal matrix, thereby solving the youth problem.

The problem, however, is the giant chasm between what these proponents preach and the reality the juvenile interprets.

Some time ago, the CAA met with the executives of a well-known and, up until that time, in our view, a highly respected major youth-focused charitable organisation to discuss the issues and strategies that might be co-jointly pursued to help young offenders.

In discussing the Police Cautioning program, we raised the concept that minor penalties could be applied to juveniles with consent and agreement from the child’s parents. For example, we suggested that the juvenile’s phone be surrendered for fourteen days or report to the police station to do chores, etc.

The response was akin to threatening juvenile offenders with purgatory as they exposed their agenda.

They were clearly and stridently opposed to the Police Cautioning Program and initiatives like the Police in Schools Program. Not that they could annunciate the problems with either.

It seemed they were motivated and basing their views on some ideological zealotry.

And of greatest surprise was their absolute lack of care for the child’s welfare and the approach of no consequences for unlawful behaviour or, for that matter, any plausible result for the child’s behaviour or meaningful action that may reduce the repetition of the behaviour.

How the child’s unlawful behaviour could be corrected, or the dangers to the child mitigated with no intervention were beyond a reasoned view.

They also could not identify a circumstance where a child should be incarcerated, whether in sentencing or on Bail.

The adverse risk to the children was obvious, but that the community must accept and tolerate this behaviour was outrageous.

Whoever is promoting the lifting of the age of criminal responsibility is tarred with the same brush of ignorance.

When a young person’s lousy behaviour escalates to violence against others, a substantial intervention of consequences must be applied to the child very quickly if the behaviour is to be modified.

Failure to do this is the cause of the current escalation in overall juvenile violent crime.

Some fundamental traits in immature young people are critical to expect to achieve behavioural change.

  • Time – Young people live in different time zones than adults, and as we age, we learn that an hour or a day for a mature adult, for a young person, would equate to a day or forever. This phenomenon translates into watering down dramatically the impact of the legal process on a child whose life has moved on substantially before consequences, if any, are applied.
  • Consequential outcomes of actions – Children may not consider the consequences of their actions and will continue to act violently until they do.

The current example of three young people pushing an elderly man fishing off a pier, falling some 5 meters into the sea, is an example. Thankfully, the old man who couldn’t swim was rescued by onlookers.

There would have been no rational thought from the youths that the consequences may lead to the death of the man.

  • Youth Bail – Excessive use of their right to Bail contributes markedly to our current problems. A youth released on bail gains bragging rights and believes they have beaten the charges. This alleged badge of honour escalates violent behaviour as associates are led to believe there will be no consequences for their violent behaviour either, so any deterrent effect on others is lost.

There must be an urgent review of the management of young offenders with an emphasis on consequences for unlawful behaviour.

That review must consider the matters we have raised and determine an efficient and appropriate system for managing young people.

The passionate argument of never incarcerating young people must be quashed as it is as essential to protect the community as it is to protect the child. Incarceration is a must if there is no viable alternative. We do not advocate incarcerating all young offenders but only when it is reasonably necessary, but all offenders must suffer some consequences.

The risks that can be argued opposing incarceration of ‘making the offender worse’ we differ ‘worse than what’. Violence in any form must be punished.  Assaults, carjacking and home invasions must be stamped out.

If there are issues with the detention system, then fix the system.

The current system appears broken, but that has more to do with activists fiddling with it for ideological reasons as the system, even with some failings, has historically served us well, or indeed better than it currently does.

Fiddling with the bail laws and the age of criminal responsibility are just that, tinkering around the edges without a holistic approach that would achieve meaningful outcomes.

Curfews and tracking devices for recidivist offenders are a ‘no brainer’.

The actual legislative changes to achieve better outcomes are relatively small. Changing the mindset of key players in the youth space might be more of a challenge; however, if their function was measured against benchmarks, instilling accountability with consequences into these functions, meaningful changes might be quicker than anticipated.

YOUTH CRIME AN AVOIDABLE CRISIS

YOUTH CRIME AN AVOIDABLE CRISIS

Youth Crime is now at epidemic proportions, and our leaders are indulging in severe hand-wringing while applying Statistical interpretation spin trying to deflect blame.

A byproduct of this problem is a 12-year-old has murdered her carer. That murder is a direct consequence of ideological values trumping pragmatic actions – the 12-year-old should have been in secure care.

The girl had run away 275 times in three years, and nobody was clever enough to put her in secure care to protect her.

The CAA has long been warning of this totally predictable outcome, first identified by the CAA nearly a decade ago. Our so-called leaders are unashamedly changing the measuring parameters to cover their ineptitude.

Different labels will not modify behaviour.

The missing link in this issue, as with others, is Leadership. Without competent leadership, this, like many other problems, will not be addressed in any meaningful way – they can just blame the parents, a motherhood statement to deflect from their ineptitude.

As reported in the Melb. Age 22/12/23, data released by the Crime Statistics Agency on Thursday shows crimes committed by minors have reached a nine-year high, with those aged 10 to 18 overrepresented in robberies, burglaries, and theft.

The strategy, it seems, is that raising the age of criminal responsibility will solve the problem because children under 14 are too young to understand they are breaking the law. Technically probably true, but they certainly know right from wrong.

Of course, this strategy will solve the problem (statistically) overnight.

The Statistics Agency will produce glowing figures for the seat polishers to crow about, having achieved a dramatic fall in youth-related crime offending. Statistics don’t lie, but when it comes to statistics, there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

This strategy is cold comfort for Victims of a home invasion, as categorising young miscreants’ actions as not criminal is only a label and will not drive behavioural change. However, more than likely it will increase the offending because young people will know, there are no consequences. “If I break into a house, I can’t get into trouble.”

Expert advice quoted in the article says it all,

“It was ‘ludicrous’ to think that a 12-year-old could be held legally responsible for their actions.”

This is the type of ideological rubbish ‘Expert advice’ that has got us to where we are now.

Children of this age know right from wrong; however, they may not fully understand the consequences of their actions, which is a far cry from not understanding what actions are criminal (wrong).

From a very young age, we teach children not to do things, explaining and sometimes by controlled demonstration, the consequences if they ignore our advice. Don’t put your hand close to the fire, or you will get burnt. Do not cross the road without looking, etc. By the time a child is about 6, they have grasped right from wrong in a rudimental sense.

So, we are prepared and accept that teaching children life skills is acceptable and desirable, but we want to give them a free pass regarding criminality.

Children are taught through consequences that they understand. Still, often, no more is needed than a reprimand to achieve complaint behaviour that is in their best interest. A Police caution, for example.

This leads to a major part of the solution – education.

Children’s criminality is a learned phenomenon, not a lack of understanding of right from wrong. There are simple solutions if we are serious about making changes and saving many young lives from being wasted.

Behaviour is taught, not hard-wired into their cognisance.

Essentially, support parents rather than blame them by introducing a formal learning program to address and correct the cognisance of young people using the group learning approach only available within the school system.

The calls for more support services are just that, calls, and are the same calls echoed every time the statistics on youth offenders are released year in and year out.

Simply changing the age of criminal responsibility will not change or reduce any criminal behaviour. The children will still commit robberies (Home invasions), burglaries (Home invasions when nobody is home), and theft (Predominantly from other children).

So, education is first, and the second part is to introduce appropriate consequences.

Police say a “core group of 207 recidivist offenders” are responsible for most of the crimes, with officers arresting 82 youth offenders more than 10 times over the reporting period.

The second part of a strategy to dramatically reduce offending is to prioritise proactive work rather than worry about diversions after they are caught.

The courts have a major role to play, and the above paragraph clearly demonstrates the Court’s failure to contribute to modifying the status quo.

How can anybody expect a juvenile to stop offending if they are arrested over 12 months more than 10 times? When does the penny drop, they are currently incorrigible.

After once, twice or thrice, there is an irrefutable argument that they need to be secured to,

  • Protect them from themselves.
  • Demonstrate that their actions come with consequences.
  • Protect potential victims.
  • Stop rationalising their behaviour.

 

There is an argument for a mandatory three-strike rule if the Judiciary declines to show leadership and facilitate consequences rather than threats.

Diversions for repeat offenders mean they are not working, so why persist with them?

The argument that the CAA has proffered for those who succumb to drug problems can be transposed into the youth area.

It is not how long they are in detention, but the fact that they are, is the key.

All the negative arguments put forward in opposition to detention are based on the assumption of the impact of months or years; we propose weeks of structured detention, not a week-long party doing nothing, their favourite pastime, apart from committing crimes.

What is misunderstood and not considered is that time for young people moves at a far slower pace than it does as we age, so we cannot properly transpose issues to young people measured in adult time or values.

A week or two in detention will achieve the desirable outcome. They will not be hardened into criminality but will cause a hiatus in their social networking that forms part of their criminal activity.

They can also be exposed to discipline.

No ability to connect with peers for a week or so will cause the peers to move on, and the perpetrator has broken the nexus, enabling them to shake bad behaviour and influences, one of the big drivers of juvenile crime.

In two weeks, the average social network of a young person can change multiple times.

The CAA implores those of influence to change course for the good of young people and focus on education and developing appropriate consequences if there is any hope of achieving a breakthrough to reduce destroying young lives, let alone the lives of some of their victims.

All current efforts have failed and discontinuing the Police in Schools program a decade or more ago removed one of the key pillars, education.

The other major contributor is applying the failed theory of Restorative Justice to the juvenile sector. A concept that rewards bad behaviour and moves responsibility to the victims.

As a senior Police executive was quoted as saying,

“When population is considered, Victoria still has its second-lowest crime rate at any point over the past decade”.

That statement, ‘weasel words’, perhaps says it all, considering the population, it seems, is only an afterthought, where they should be a critical consideration in prioritising action to resolve the problem. It is deeply worrying that the population is so poorly considered as a priority by the Police.

No more ‘weasel words’, but identifiable and realistic actions.

It is time to show the mettle, not the hollow, repetitive words and statistics currently in vogue.

Acknowledge and fix the problem.

YOUTH CRIME IS YOUR FAULT

YOUTH CRIME IS YOUR FAULT

The Herald Sun 19/12/23 again reports the burgeoning crime in this State, particularly serious youth crime.

They highlight the case of a 16-year-old boy implicated in 18 aggravated burglaries where cars were stolen in just over 5 weeks. The boy was charged with 48 offences in that time but was continually allowed to walk free by our legal system.

Other prolific offenders reported are,

  • A 13-year-old boy was charged with eight aggravated burglaries and four car thefts in the four weeks.
  • A 13-year-old boy was arrested four times and charged with four aggravated burglaries and five car thefts.
  • A 12-year-old accused of six robberies and an assault.
  • A 15-year-old charged with seven aggravated burglaries, five car thefts and a robbery.

Officers attached to Operation Trinity have made 2231 arrests since March, including 502 for aggravated burglaries and stealing vehicles.

The other 1729 arrests concerned what police described as “drug and other miscellaneous offences”.

And the loud response from those facilitating this outrageous behaviour is the same every time, ‘crickets’.

The Government and Opposition remain mute, the Courts and professionals in the youth field follow suit, and the only explanation falls to the Police.

The police are left with the glib line.

“Police say homeowners failing to take precautions to protect their property remained an issue.”

Obviously, designed to avoid criticising others, this line (we have heard often before) is disgraceful and explains why we are where we are, following closely on the experiences in Queensland and the NT.

As citizens, it is apparently our responsibility to address this issue, not the government officials we elect and pay with our taxes. Conveniently forgotten is that it is not us but the perpetrator who is committing the crime.

We wouldn’t need to lock things up so much if our government officials, law enforcement, and the justice system would address the root causes of crime and implement effective strategies to discourage young people from engaging in criminal behaviour. We need practical and evidence-based solutions, not just ideologically based theory that is destined to, and does continue to fail.

As it stands, the young offender experiences no significant incentives to stop committing crimes and are set free. Getting caught is no more than an inconvenience and part of the adrenaline rush. Having a Magistrate lecture them is the only penalty.

It is left to the Police to investigate, charge and take these offenders before the courts, securing convictions and then watch them walk out, thumbing their nose at the law only for them to repeat the same behaviour, ad infinitum.

A significant strategy working against reducing this problem is a foreboding bordering on paranoia by the responsible entities not to be blamed or admit to a failure.

Calls for a Royal Commission have been mumbled about, but that will not solve the problem as the track records of Royal Commissions are not that good at resolving problems. They are better equipped for fostering industries based on no empirical evidence, hoping, rather than determining, that the industries have the solution, and the exercise will take 3-5 years and cost us Millions for no appreciable return on that investment.

What is needed is leadership to implement accountabilities on entities to perform and achieve change by a no-blame approach, and the development of some basic pragmatic principles by which all entities adhere.

That will make some uncomfortable, but so be it; we want a result-based holistic approach that encompasses the Courts, the Police, Health, Corrections and Welfare Services, including NFPs, and organisations who work in this area.

We know that there are many who are ideologically opposed to concepts like personal accountability, but this type of ideology must not influence the solution to the problem because that is what has caused it.

The obsession with not sending young people to jail must stop. The ridiculous notion that jail will only make them worse begs the question, ‘worse than what’.

It is also incredible how certain sectors blame the Youth Detention centres as not fit for young people. We agree that they are not suitable for many young people, but they are suitable for securing violent juvenile thugs who pose a genuine and demonstrated risk to the community.

There is also the stupid notion that the Detention Centres themselves are the problem. An example is the Northern Territory, where a Royal Commission recommended the closure of the Don Dale Facility in Darwin. The physical building had little or no impact, it was the management regime of the place that failed dismally.

Like other Detention Centres the problem is not the building, it is the ineffective management of inmates, and we need to accept that some inmates are so incorrigible they need to be secured and restricted, not only for the good of the community, but, ironically, in the best interest of the convicted perpetrator and other inmates and staff.

The idiotically asinine belief permeating through our youth justice administration that perpetrators who continue to offend will be harmed by Detention is the first thing that must change because the reality is that avoiding saving them from themselves is irresponsible. How can they be so dumb?

The CCYP and Youth Justice have a lot to answer for as they are clearly asleep at the wheel or, more probably, are void of competent leadership that would have them both attentive and focused on these issues.

Their most notable output on these issues is ‘crickets’.

Immediate reform of the way recidivist juvenile offenders are treated in our criminal justice system, rather than excuses, is long overdue.

THE FALLIBILITY OF MISGUIDED IDEOLOGY

THE FALLIBILITY OF MISGUIDED IDEOLOGY

Youth crime is the victim of ideology that is so blinkered as to fail to achieve its original goal.

In the late 1990’s to 2012 a formidable politician, Robert Hulls, championed a concept called Restorative Justice.

A concept, ironically given its devout following in Victoria’s Judicial fraternity, that has not exactly achieved worldwide acclaim or even acclaim to any great degree Nationally.

For all its warm-fuzzy ideological appeal, the concept remains just a theory, and we are paying the penalty of having our Justice system hijacked by a theory that, in practice, has failed, hence the lack of acclaim.

Look no further than the juvenile crime statistics over the last two decades to see the abject failure. This era was preceded by a Victoria Police Policy of proactive policing targeting young people and building bridges. A policy that worked.

The definition of Restorative Justice published by RMIT, is clearly an ideological joke gone disastrously wrong, and sane people should never have allowed it to permeate the justice system as it currently has.

Restorative justice is a theory of justice that focuses on the harm caused by crime and wrongdoing to people, relationships and communities.

It provides a framework for addressing and preventing harm that moves beyond punishment towards healing. As a practice, restorative justice processes most commonly bring together people affected by harm in a safe, structured and facilitated way, to talk about what happened, how they were impacted and how the harm can be repaired or addressed. 

https://cij.org.au/opencircle/what-is-restorative-justice

It is a fat lot of good having victims, sometimes of horrendous crimes, being confronted in a congenial environment with the perpetrator for ‘a healing’; ‘a healing for who’?

Healing the perpetrator does nothing for the poor Victim who not only has to suffer the consequences of the crime but is then called up for ‘a healing’, not for them, but for the perpetrator.

That this process would somehow reduce the likelihood of the perpetrator reoffending is an academic fantasy.

One major failing is this theoretical concept has been interpreted by the judiciary and others as a process to assist perpetrators and perhaps turn their lives around. The operative word is, perhaps, because, to those who know and understand the psyche of the young, it is highly unlikely to achieve the desired outcome.

Juvenile offenders know only one concept, and that is their personal advantage as they see it, and the impact on anybody else is immaterial.

When juveniles from a particular cohort are charged and convicted by a court, the perpetrator perceives only two options. If they walk from the court, they have beaten the charge, or they can be sent to prison, a badge of honour to be bragged about.

Lawyers and the Judiciary might as well save the energy from dissertations directed at a convicted juvenile perpetrator as they explain how wrong the actions are and that a diversion will be their ‘last chance’. Rhetoric without consequences, they have no doubt heard many times, making the threat useless.

So, no matter what might be said or recorded or otherwise by the Court, if the perpetrator walks from Court, their bragging rights herald, ‘I won’, and will be broadcast loudly amongst their peers. That has a knock-on effect of impunity from any consequences, emboldening others to commit crimes.

The Court’s focus on the individual perpetrator is important, but the Court has an obligation to the broader community, particularly other young people likely to offend.

That leaves us with a system that rewards, not punishes criminality, in the perpetrator’s mind’. Any deterrent effect is disastrously lost on any peers of the perpetrator as they can demonstrate that no matter what they do, nothing happens.

If reparation was enforced on the juveniles and or their family, it would at least be a tangible deterrent.

The best option to reduce juvenile crime is to prevent it by reintroducing proactive programs like,

  • Blue Light Discos (Blue Light survives, but the discos have all but disappeared).
  • The Police in Schools Program, which ran very successfully in Victoria from 1969 until 2006. (The current iteration is similar in name only; the very effective Curriculum-based version is no longer used.)
  • Operation New Start was a program actively ensuring young people actually get to school.
  • Derby Hill – a Blue Light resource used as a school camp. Local Police could spend time with their local children in a school camp orientated to Policing. The camp has been disposed of.

Early structured connection of police with juveniles pays high dividends in reducing offending. All of these programs had one remarkable similarity. When each was introduced, there was an immediate reduction in local juvenile crime.

Another option to reduce the frequency and severity of juvenile crime is incarceration, particularly for repeat offenders—understandable consequences for society and the juvenile.

Unfortunately, there is only one option to reduce the frequency and severity of juvenile crime, and that is incarceration—understandable consequences, not for society but for the juvenile.

Jail is not the place for young people; neither is it appropriate or in their best interest for them to rape,  rob and pillage society.

Shorter sentences will be the answer because time for young people moves extremely slowly, so a month or two with a generous good behaviour incentive would be more effective than any extended period to avoid the risk of institutionalisation and create a break in the nexus the juvenile has with their current peers.

Jail per se is not the problem; it is how this resource is used. Threats alone will never succeed, and the resource needs to be used more creatively and effectively.

After a relatively short period, the perpetrator’s peers will move on without the juvenile, a good outcome that gives the juvenile the chance to start again.

While jail should not be a holiday home, the discipline and proper management of juveniles will help them.

If the problem is perceived to be the jail, then fix the jail.

It’s their liberty that has to be sacrificed. A month without access to a mobile phone would be a great start on the road to a crime-free life.

In serious cases, it is the juvenile offender’s liberty that must be sacrificed to protect the Juvenile and the Victims.

The reduction starts with creative and effective pro-active programs to reduce crime in the first place and then pragmatic and effective management of perpetrators to guide them from their current path.

This will ultimately save lives, predominantly of the perpetrators. Crime can be a fatal endeavour.

 

 

ARE WE BARKING MAD OR JUST PLAIN STUPID?

ARE WE BARKING MAD OR JUST PLAIN STUPID?

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?’

CRIME IS OUT OF CONTROL -WHY?

CRIME IS OUT OF CONTROL -WHY?

20th June 2023

The Community Advocacy Alliance CAA has been concerned for some time and repeatedly warned that failing to undertake effective preventative, proactive programs will lead to a worsening youth crime rate.

Our worst fears have been realised.

So concerned about Law enforcement’s direction, the CAA developed a Police Veterans in Schools Program with many Police coming out of retirement as volunteers to deliver the program. But this was thwarted by the then Chief Commissioner Ashton and the impact of COVID.

The current Chief Commissioner who supported a school’s program has been unable to implement it, and we wonder whether there was pushback from the Education Department or Union against the proposal. Or perhaps internal pressure by those Police with a limited mindset only capable of understanding the reactive approach as the role of Policing.

Irrespective, the State still does not have a structured, measurable program that can intervene and reduce crime before it occurs; proactive Policing.

Unfortunately, over two decades ago, the then Police Command withdrew the Force from active involvement in working face-to-face with youth and the community in crime prevention programs. This decision was not based on any empirical data but the opposite and was implemented by an executive that obviously did not understand Policing and functioned on a whim.

Although there is some activity in this space today, it is minuscule, the efficacy is flaky at best, and what does happen now is not structured or measurable.

The programs scrapped or so severely impacted as to make them impotent, were ‘Blue Light Discos’, ‘Police in Schools Involvement Program’, ‘Safety House’, ‘High Ropes’, and ‘Operation Newstart’, all of which were force-wide. While numerous other programs initiated by local Police, such as ‘Backyard Rugby’, ‘Poll Position’, ‘Walk It Like You Talk It’, and many more, actively engaged with youth.

These programs were predominantly driven by the frontline Police acknowledging the problem and providing a solution, a bottom-up approach with the front line Police having ownership of the initiative and, therefore, voluntary commitment.

The Police recognised the importance of schools in these programs and generally involved them and their community, creating a whole of community approach, to the benefit of the children.

What is forgotten is that the growth of youth gangs can only occur where there is a pool of willing youths eager to join. Engaging with the younger youth before they are misdirected, is the only sure way to mitigate the gang culture – cut the supply line.

Ironically many of these programs initiated and developed in Victoria and then scrapped continue very successfully in other States and overseas, where the value of these programs is universally accepted as an essential part of effective Policing.

Victoria Police have been forced to adopt a more reactive, risk-averse policing model.

The current Chief Commissioner, Patton, is attempting to return to a community policing model, but unfortunately, it is like trying to turn the Titanic. And like the Titanic, these attempts have failed, and the inevitable outcome is where we are today.

In well over a decade, there has been a huge turnover in police numbers, and consequently, many newer police officers know nothing but a reactive policing model, with proactive policing an anathema to most.

We are paying a heavy price with substantial Police resources heavily committed reactively to the youth issue. This is at the cost of servicing the myriad of other societal problems that befall a community. The most obvious is Domestic Violence and the Road Toll.

The result is already being felt, with a marked decline in effective crime prevention, impacting all facets of our lives. Increased incidents of Domestic Violence and a soaring Road Toll.

Fear of crime can be the worst form of oppression for any community.

Having identified failings within Policing, the real elephant in the room seems to avoid scrutiny.

Hiding in full sight is the Judiciary.

While the focus, to a degree, is unfairly levelled at the Police, it is unfair for the Police to shoulder all the blame when it is the Courts that bear the ultimate and the lion’s share of responsibility for the situation we now face.

Police arrest and charge perpetrators, but it is the Courts that determine the penalty upon conviction and must take responsibility for the outcomes of each sentence imposed.

The responsibility for charging perpetrators lies with the police, while the courts determine whether they become recidivists.

However, the legal system in Victoria seems to be a combination of different approaches that claim to be innovative but lack any accountability. The introduction of Restorative Justice in the past decade has caused significant harm to the legal system. This process has reduced the accountability of perpetrators for their crimes and, in some cases, has shifted the blame to the victim. For instance, in cases where the victim left a window open, the perpetrator climbing in and stealing property was seen as less serious, thereby reducing the criminal’s culpability. This is absurd.

In all of the nonsensical initiatives or interpretations that followed the lauded Restorative Justice initiative, the Courts lost perspective of what they were there for and any semblance that the Courts bore any responsibility for the crime rate, is successfully disguised.

Our Court system has so deteriorated that perpetrators can be bailed multiple times, have multiple court appearances, and the Courts simply find excuses to allow the perpetrators to return to the community to offend again.

The oft-hackneyed phrase, ‘incarcerating perpetrators only makes them worse’ -is arrant nonsense because the rhetorical question that must follow is, ‘worse than what?’.

Perpetrators who are recidivists are ‘worse’ back on the streets, particularly young ones who need to be protected from themselves as much as the community needs to be protected from them.

Any notion that the Courts have an obligation to the Victim or society more generally has evaporated. The Courts have been totally encapsulated in the notion that the offender needs all the considerations, and somehow being nice to them will solve the problem.

We suggest that the problem is, that most juvenile offenders who are at the lower end of the IQ Scale see anything other than incarceration as beating the offence.

In reality, most offenders scoff at the lenient sentencing as nothing more than an inconvenience, as the Governments own statistics reveal.

Reoffending by children and young people in Victoria found that in Victoria, young people aged 10 to 14 years have the highest reoffending rates of all ages in the criminal justice system, with more than 80 per cent reoffending at some time, and more than 60 per cent reoffending with an offence against the person (Aggravated Burglaries).

https://www.justice.vic.gov.au/youth-justice-strategic-plan-2020-2030-delivering-age-appropriate-responses-for-10-to-14-year-olds#

The Judiciary has clearly failed in its duty. Generally, it passes off the responsibility for this shocking State of affairs to the ‘Juvenile Justice system or Police, but it is the Judicial officers who are the ones who determine the outcomes, not some bureaucrat working in the Department or a police member trying to attend more calls than the available time their shift allows.

All the browbeating is worth naught until the Judiciary starts regularly incarcerating offenders rather than issuing continued warnings, introducing consequences, a novel approach to reducing crime.

It’s important to understand that detaining juvenile offenders for a brief period can actually be beneficial in breaking their behavioural patterns. This point is often overlooked by those who are against incarcerating minors.

A child lives in the moment, and time relative to them differs greatly from that of an adult.

Many within the Judiciary avoid the hard decisions, and until we insist on accountability and the compilation of useful statistics where the performance of a Judicial Officer can be measured, nothing is likely to change.

What value is a Judicial officer’s service to society when their decisions translate into a very high recidivism rate amongst perpetrators who are convicted in their Court?

We need to shift the focus of the Courts to their proper role of reducing crime.

Without the Courts doing their job, the Police cannot do theirs, and we all suffer as Police are committed to the recidivist gangs rather than other important issues.

And the future? Courts will continue to allow perpetrators to avoid responsibility for their crimes, and Police will be faced with ever-increasing demands for increased police numbers to deal with exponential demand for the reactive function, at a huge cost to the State that you and I pay for.

We desperately need a brave Government intervention and a circuit breaker to the spiralling downward trend of Law and order in Victoria.

Without intervention in the Courts current philosophical disposition, criminals will ultimately face far less punitive outcomes for their activity and coupled with the moves to decriminalise the Drug issue and raise the age of criminal responsibility, you can see where it is headed – and it is not good.

VIOLENCE IN OUR SCHOOLS IS AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT TO SOCIETY.

12th April 2023

The Herald Sun today, Apr 12 2023, reported on the violence surrounding young children involved in violent clashes as part of a ‘Fight Club’ fad operating within the school system. The club and its protagonists are not gender specific.

Organised through social media, these fights appear vicious and common. It comes after the Herald Sun revealed earlier this week that more than 130 brutal fights involving kids had been posted on the Instagram page which celebrates vicious brawls, including more than 30 just in the past week, reported in just one area of Melbourne.

These events involve at least ten schools, and the social media site used has 2000 followers.

These statistics are beyond alarming, and if anybody is naive enough to see this as a school problem, the spill over into the broader community is inevitable; watch out.

Add to that, the complaints from teachers about violence and lack of discipline in the school system directly impacts the learning progress of all students and the safety in the teacher’s workplace. There is little wonder that teachers are hard to recruit. Who wants to go to work with a real risk of getting bashed? No wonder the standard of education is in such decline.

The CAA has raised these issues for a number of years, so there are no excuses for inaction that our community leaders can present – they have been warned ad infinitum, yet have chosen not to act.

It is sad to say that death or acute injury to a student, at school, or a teacher is inevitable. School shootings, the scourge of America, almost will inevitably come to our schools. Perhaps our gun laws may reduce the incidence of firearms, but bladed weapons will be our nemesis.

Putting the collective heads in the sand by those responsible is a disgrace of epic proportions.

This problem is escalating and will not go away unless they act. Stop looking for excuses to divest your responsibility to others; take a leadership position and act; that is supposed to be your job.

When the community realises that the inaction of those with the power to make changes have avoided doing so, and our most valuable resource and future are in decline, they will be looking to lay blame, which could hurt those responsible as much as the kids now suffer.

The violence our children is exposed to can only lead to an upsurge in violence later in life for these children as they see violence as a means to an end.

As an example, it is not rocket science that the children of North Richmond who are being desensitised to the perils of illicit drugs, exposed to the outcomes daily, will lead to many of those children taking up the ‘cool’ life of an addict.

Will the leadership of today take responsibility for those outcomes?

If we think there is an epidemic of Domestic violence, now wait a decade. As children of today enter relationships as adults, the solution to dispute resolution (FDR) will be domestic violence on a scale that will make today’s skyrocketing incidents seem tame.

Inaction by government and police leadership is responsible, and ducking and weaving will not ameliorate the moral responsibility of failure by notable individuals from both entities.

To the current Government and police leadership, the recent headlines about youth violence can only be ignored at your peril.

With over four hundred years of Policing experience and a raft of other disciplines in the CAA, it would be unwise to ignore the warnings and dismiss the solutions we have proffered.

In 2016 we warned of a coming crime tsunami which was ignored, and the prediction eventuated.

Our feedback from the community is that it is getting sick and tired of inaction on critical social areas while less important, on a quantitative scale, are getting the attention.

This is the litany of issues raised by the CAA that have been ignored.

Drug scourge in schools

by CAA | Jun 19, 2017 |

There is no doubt that additional education of students on the negative aspects and risks of drugs is essential, as are support services for those affected. Still, if ever there was an argument for the allocation of Police Resources to schools to work to prevent the problem, then this is it.

In other States, Police are embedded in Secondary Schools as part of a structured Police In Schools Program, but that does not seem to be a worthy allocation of resources in this State. Paradoxically in other States with structured Police In Schools Programs, Crime rates are falling.

Assistant Commissioner Nugent correctly highlights how the drug issue in schools feeds into the ever-increasing crime rate.

We cannot expect teachers to deal with the criminal aspect of the Drug problem in Schools.

Comment;There is no evidence that police actively tried to address this issue- possibly seen as a School problem.

Full story at https://caainc.org.au/drug-scourge-in-schools/?

Class War

by CAA | Oct 8, 2018 |

Apart from the obvious advantages of a safer community overall, the proposal to reintroduce the Police In Schools Program to Primary Schools and embed police in Secondary Schools (PISP) would see a substantial increase in safety for teachers.

The Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) has submitted the PISP proposal to both the Government and the Opposition. However, only the Liberal Opposition has embraced and announced the inclusion of a PISP in their policy.

This initiative would be the most effective way to keep our children safe, help protect our educators and reduce stress and achieve better educational outcomes for our children.

Comment; Twelve months later, after multiple representations, no action was taken.

The Herald Sun today, Apr 12 2023, reported on the violence surrounding young children involved in violent clashes as part of a ‘Fight Club’ fad operating within the school system. The club and its protagonists are not gender specific.

Organised through social media, these fights appear vicious and common. It comes after the Herald Sun revealed earlier this week that more than 130 brutal fights involving kids had been posted on the Instagram page which celebrates vicious brawls, including more than 30 just in the past week, reported in just one area of Melbourne.

These events involve at least ten schools, and the social media site used has 2000 followers.

These statistics are beyond alarming, and if anybody is naive enough to see this as a school problem, the spill over into the broader community is inevitable; watch out.

Add to that, the complaints from teachers about violence and lack of discipline in the school system directly impacts the learning progress of all students and the safety in the teacher’s workplace. There is little wonder that teachers are hard to recruit. Who wants to go to work with a real risk of getting bashed? No wonder the standard of education is in such decline.

The CAA has raised these issues for a number of years, so there are no excuses for inaction that our community leaders can present – they have been warned ad infinitum, yet have chosen not to act.

It is sad to say that death or acute injury to a student, at school, or a teacher is inevitable. School shootings, the scourge of America, almost will inevitably come to our schools. Perhaps our gun laws may reduce the incidence of firearms, but bladed weapons will be our nemesis.

Putting the collective heads in the sand by those responsible is a disgrace of epic proportions.

This problem is escalating and will not go away unless they act. Stop looking for excuses to divest your responsibility to others; take a leadership position and act; that is supposed to be your job.

When the community realises that the inaction of those with the power to make changes have avoided doing so, and our most valuable resource and future are in decline, they will be looking to lay blame, which could hurt those responsible as much as the kids now suffer.

The violence our children is exposed to can only lead to an upsurge in violence later in life for these children as they see violence as a means to an end.

As an example, it is not rocket science that the children of North Richmond who are being desensitised to the perils of illicit drugs, exposed to the outcomes daily, will lead to many of those children taking up the ‘cool’ life of an addict.

Will the leadership of today take responsibility for those outcomes?

If we think there is an epidemic of Domestic violence, now wait a decade. As children of today enter relationships as adults, the solution to dispute resolution (FDR) will be domestic violence on a scale that will make today’s skyrocketing incidents seem tame.

Inaction by government and police leadership is responsible, and ducking and weaving will not ameliorate the moral responsibility of failure by notable individuals from both entities.

To the current Government and police leadership, the recent headlines about youth violence can only be ignored at your peril.

With over four hundred years of Policing experience and a raft of other disciplines in the CAA, it would be unwise to ignore the warnings and dismiss the solutions we have proffered.

In 2016 we warned of a coming crime tsunami which was ignored, and the prediction eventuated.

Our feedback from the community is that it is getting sick and tired of inaction on critical social areas while less important, on a quantitative scale, are getting the attention.

This is the litany of issues raised by the CAA that have been ignored.

Drug scourge in schools

by CAA | Jun 19, 2017 |

There is no doubt that additional education of students on the negative aspects and risks of drugs is essential, as are support services for those affected. Still, if ever there was an argument for the allocation of Police Resources to schools to work to prevent the problem, then this is it.

In other States, Police are embedded in Secondary Schools as part of a structured Police In Schools Program, but that does not seem to be a worthy allocation of resources in this State. Paradoxically in other States with structured Police In Schools Programs, Crime rates are falling.

Assistant Commissioner Nugent correctly highlights how the drug issue in schools feeds into the ever-increasing crime rate.

We cannot expect teachers to deal with the criminal aspect of the Drug problem in Schools.

Comment; There is no evidence that police actively tried to address this issue- possibly seen as a School problem.

Full story at https://caainc.org.au/drug-scourge-in-schools/?

Class War

by CAA | Oct 8, 2018 |

Apart from the obvious advantages of a safer community overall, the proposal to reintroduce the Police In Schools Program to Primary Schools and embed police in Secondary Schools (PISP) would see a substantial increase in safety for teachers.

The Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) has submitted the PISP proposal to both the Government and the Opposition. However, only the Liberal Opposition has embraced and announced the inclusion of a PISP in their policy.

This initiative would be the most effective way to keep our children safe, help protect our educators and reduce stress and achieve better educational outcomes for our children.

Comment; Twelve months later, after multiple representations, no action was taken.

Full story https://caainc.org.au/class-war/?

500 children stalked

by CAA | Nov 8, 2018 |

What a shocking headline, and to think this is the tip of the iceberg.

Most perpetrators are children, so the response is even more alarming than the problem.

The implied strategy to prosecute indicates the failed Law and Order principles applied in this State, where it is more important to prosecute than prevent the offence in the first place.

Many perpetrators, children as young as ten, have barely learnt that there can be consequences to their actions and charging a few kids will not help many victims.

To argue that it will be a deterrent is absolute rubbish.

The severity and the effect of the problem must not be understated. It can devastate the victim, but handling it in a draconian fashion will inevitably lead to more significant problems.

We must be about preventing or managing the problem.

Comment; In 2018 we did not predict that any government would be so inept as to raise the age of criminal responsibility, but they are considering doing so. The consequences of that flawed proposal are yet to be fully realised. But this shocking revelation in relation to stalking only further motivated the CAA to take action, and that is when we decided in 2019 to act where VicPol and the Government would not.

Full story https://caainc.org.au/500-children-stalked/?

Police Veterans in Schools launch

by CAA | Dec 29, 2019

The Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) proposes developing a structured school-based program entitled the Police Veterans in Schools Program (PVISP). The pilot program aims to identify the feasibility of using retired and former police members to deliver a program to teach children community values, the role of police and the law and a suite of victim reduction strategies. Central to this program is building relationships between young people and police so that respect can be developed for the policing function.

Comment; From frustration and inaction by VicPol, the CAA designed and built a School-based program to be delivered by Police Veterans to dovetail with the State school’s curriculum. The CAA recruited a number of Schools who were very enthusiastic and equally enthusiastic retired police to operate a Pilot to demonstrate the program’s effectiveness. But unfortunately, the day the program was to start, COVID hit, stopping the program.

From day one VicPol was invited to be involved in the CAA initiative.

Full story at https://caainc.org.au/police-veterans/

TIME FOR DISCIPLINE IN SCHOOLS AND ELSEWHERE?

by CAA | Feb 5, 2020 |

On Feb 6 2020, The Age education editor, Adam Carey, reported that a global survey shows Australian classrooms are among the least disciplined in the world.

Learning time is lost to noise and disorder, and many students cannot work well in class.

Australia ranked 70th out of 77 participating nations in the OECD’s 2018 index of disciplinary climate.

Coupled with the abysmal level of Australian students learning Maths, it is high time that discipline is reintroduced into all classrooms.

The Community Advocacy Alliance Inc. (CAA) will introduce police veterans into selected schools in 2020.  Our program (PVISP) was launched on Nov 23 2019, and sought to instil in students the basic tenets of good citizenship and provide students with the skills to avoid becoming involved in crime or being victimised.

Comment; How much better position would we now be in had these early warnings been heeded? To blame COVID is an absolute cop-out, as a little creative application could have introduced the concept to the school population and would have helped and been superior to the current approach. But we are now twelve months out of COVID, and still, inaction is the outcome. How many warnings must there be?

Full story at https://caainc.org.au/time-for-discipline-in-schools-and-elsewhere/?

CHIEF COMMISSIONER SLAMS POLICE VETERAN VOLUNTEERS

by CAA | Feb 16, 2020 |

Commissioner Ashton’s letter to the School Principals was blatantly designed to undermine the Police Veteran’s School volunteers. He set out a broad raft of mainly reactive claims that allegedly are applied somehow to schools.

The problem is schools generally know nothing about it. It can only be described as spin.

School principals that have contacted us are either angry or confused because they never see what Ashton claims to be happening. Instead, they embraced the Police Veterans In Schools Program (PVISP).

Comment; Even with Ashton’s letter to schools criticising and distancing VicPol from the program, most schools still wanted to proceed, if only on an informal basis. Aggravating the letter, an internal memo was sent by VicPol to all police stations directing them not to cooperate with schools involved in the program or members of the CAA. Even so, the school’s commitments generally did not wain; however, COVID ended that.

Full story https://caainc.org.au/chief-commissioner-slams-police-veteran-                     volunteers/?

To all fellow Victorians –

Open letter by Kel Glare, former Chief Commissioner and Chair of the CAA.

by CAA | Mar 24, 2021 |

Victoria, do not underestimate the importance of the announcement by Chief Commissioner Patton of a Police in Schools Program (PISP) (Herald Sun 24/3/21).

This change in the policing approach is very significant and will have a positive impact on the lives of us all.

The failure of former Police Chief Commissioners to re-implement this important Policing strategy is partly responsible for the increased crime rates in past years, particularly in serious crimes committed by juveniles.

The reintroduction of a structured PISP has been the cornerstone and the basis for the formation of the Community Advocacy Alliance Inc. (CAA), which I have the privilege to chair.

As a group, we have worked for six years for this outcome, and we unreservedly congratulate Chief Commissioner Patton for reintroducing this program.

At this time, we were very heartened when the current Chief Commissioner, Shane Patton APM announced that VicPol would finally implement a formal Police schools program for Victoria.

Comment; Unfortunately, two years later, we are yet to see the Chief Commissioners’ commitment realised.

We do not question the commitment and intent of the Chief as we believe he was genuine. Still, we are advised that he struck headwinds from other Senior executives who coincidently featured in the era when former Commissioner Nixon cancelled the project originally. Ashton followed through attempting to stop the reintroduction, all be it by veterans not impacting the Police resource argument.

The objectors can be easily identified by their lack of policing skills and poor understanding of proactive policing, the most effective type. The need to replace these people with enlightened and competent executives has never been more urgent.

Full story at https://caainc.org.au/to-all-fellow-victorians/

Victoria Police have rolled out justification for not introducing a formal police schools program, and the list of police activities in schools at first glance is impressive until closer examination reveals a huge serving of spin is all it is.

Police attending schools on an ad-hoc basis with no structured curriculum is both inane and inept akin to smoke and mirrors. It is also the easy way out, just playing with the kids.

It is flawed dramatically, with no ability to measure outcomes or coordinate and target issues of concern with no ability to modify to rising challenges.

The current approach is similar Police Lecture Squad of many years ago. This allegedly highly trained Police team visited schools on a full-time basis and prided itself on its specialist status.

It featured prominently in Annual Reports and was seen as the frontline in working with kids.

This Team were briefed about a severe problem in a particular school and tasked to rearrange their schedule to address the issue urgently.

After much resistance, the Team arranged to see the school at an assembly of the whole school. (Avoiding confronting the age group responsible for the concerns)

To the amazement and embarrassment of their supervisors, the Team presented a short dissertation on pedestrian road safety and did not address or mention the serious issue the school faced.

As a direct result, the Team was disbanded and transferred to Operational Duties.

Where this Chief Commissioner is facing headwinds either in executive management or at the coordinating level, those placing the roadblocks or are unable to perform their task must be removed, and competent people deployed to the function.

Our children deserve that much.

 

 

TEN TO FOURTEENS- COMMIT MURDER BUT NOT IN VICTORIA – REALLY?

TEN TO FOURTEENS- COMMIT MURDER BUT NOT IN VICTORIA – REALLY?

20th March 2023

Do you remember the shocking case of two-year-old James Bulger?

1993    James was abducted, tortured and murdered by two young boys. The murder happened  in the UK, and Robert Thompson and Jon Venables were convicted for this atrocious  crime. They were both ten years old when the offence occurred. The high-profile 1993 British case horrified the world, everybody was rightly stunned as to how that could happen, but it did.

James Bulger being abducted by Thompson and Venables.

2017    An eleven-year-old boy was charged with Murdering Patrick Slater in a brawl in Perth.
2020   Solomone Taufeulungaki, a Melbourne Teenager, was murdered by a gang of  eleven, including two thirteen-year-olds. They have all been charged with  Solomone’s murder.

Melbourne Teenager Solomone Taufeulungaki was murdered by children

2021.  Five young people charged with Murder in Sydney, boys aged 13,14,15,13 and a girl aged 15, were apparently the perpetrators, all charged with the murder of  a sixteen-year-old boy.
2023  Media report that a 13-year-old was charged with the murder of his 4-year-old   sibling in Danville, Virginia, US. The 13-year-old was charged with murder after suffocating their sibling and confessing to the crime.
2023 The report (H/S 16/03/23 p.22) of the murder of a twelve-year-old girl by  classmates aged twelve and thirteen who confessed the crime. The victim was stabbed thirty times and dumped in a wooded area.

In this incident, offenders were aged twelve and thirteen and was particularly gruesome and horrific; highlighting the folly of increasing the age of criminal culpability to fourteen.

This murder occurred in Germany, where the age of criminal responsibility has been lifted to fourteen, and neither perpetrator can be charged, raising some very interesting issues for Victoria, currently considering the same regressive move.

  • Will the victim’s family face being confronted by the perpetrators in their community?
  • How will the family cope knowing the murderers were not punished or even tried?
  • What happens if the perpetrators claim innocence? Their matter is never tried so they will be forever tarred with the title murderer? The legal maxim, innocent until proven guilty, may not reconcile with the Court of Public opinion.
  • What happens to the perpetrators? The sheer brutality requires the community to be protected.
  • Clearly, the police would have no power to intervene in any continuing offending, so who does?

We accept that these offences are not an everyday occurrence. Still, they are so brutal when they happen that the community cannot and will not tolerate this decriminalisation as part of being an enlightened society – particularly for the families of those who, as a result, have their loved ones’ lights put out, brutally and permanently.

These random examples are just a few of what happens, and it happens here, so we would be extremely foolish to take the ‘won’t happen here’ path.

It has and will continue to happen; the uncomfortable truth for the social dreamers is that as much as we might wish it, it is inevitable.

This current push in Victoria has the hallmarks of another Social construct that is not well thought out and devoid of an understanding of the consequences and reality.

The number of children aged 10-14 charged in 2007 was just over 10% (of all young people charged), but by 2016, the trend had the figure at 4.3%, according to the Crime Statistics Agency Vic.

Our current strategies are working, although they could be improved upon; why dabble, build on a solid foundation if you want enhanced results.

As the law currently stands in Victoria, a child over ten and under fourteen cannot be charged with a criminal offence unless they knew the alleged act was wrong when they did it. The safeguard of having an independent person/ parent present when the child is interviewed, to our knowledge, has never been challenged.

This proposal is like throwing the baby out with the bath water, inane.

There is no doubt that youth crime has grown overall, but then so has the community, and the Police Cautioning program, its years of success, with its low recidivism rate remaining the cornerstone of this multi-discipline approach in guiding young people away from crime. Still, it is not designed to deal with serious crimes committed by the very young, which has to remain the purview of the Courts.

See https://files.crimestatistics.vic.gov.au/

The following questions we pose for the Government.

  • What mechanisms will be in place to protect the community?
  • What mechanisms will be designed to help victims?
  • What do police do with the child?
  • What protections exist to allay litigation for the victim or the perpetrator?
  • What strategies prevent criminals from exploiting and using children to commit crimes, particularly in the drug scene?

Germany has made a grave mistake with their approach, lifting the age to fourteen; there is no empirical data even to hint that the current system in Victoria of the age of responsibility is an issue.

A home invasion where victims are woken to find perpetrators in their houses is extremely frightening. However, this scare is not mitigated because the perpetrators are subsequently determined to be children. The victims will be just as terrified in some circumstances fearing for their life, irrespective of the age of the offenders.  A list of Home invasions allegedly committed by children under fourteen would be too long to detail here.

The danger increases for the victim if the perpetrators are young, as they do not understand all the consequences of their actions. That is an irrefutable fact.

We have no issue with, and support developing strategies to reduce the incidence of juvenile offending and support any efforts in this area, and equally support the current multi-discipline approach to reduce the likelihood of young people reoffending.

However, we strongly reject the current proposal, which effectively removes the ability of police to give a formal caution where the child, the parents, and professionals can be brought together to assist the child’s direction and also completely ignores the rights of victims and the broader impact on the community. The risk of escalating child criminality is just too great.

We do strongly recommend that a formal and structured police-in-schools program be revisited as a preventative initiative with the added advantage that the assistance for the children can be coordinated with the schools bringing police and the professionals together to achieve better outcomes, focusing on prevention and follow-up of children cautioned, improving the outcomes for children. Such a program also educates children in the pitfalls of being involved in anti-social behaviour in all its forms and encourages their formal education.

Additionally, this program will support School staff confronted by children or parents and create an overall safer school environment for all, to improve educational outcomes overall.

So let’s hope sensible, pragmatic ideas prevail and raising the age of criminal responsibility is not pursued.

Premier – don’t do it.

The CAA would be happy to assist the Government in achieving a workable plan with reduced risks to all.

YOUR MOVE PREMIER

YOUR MOVE PREMIER

2nd March 2023

Interesting to see what happens, now that the idea of raising the age of criminal intent to fourteen years is facing scrutiny, even before it is introduced.

An idea that sounds wonderful in theory but fails the young people it seeks to benefit.

As reported on the 24th of February 2023 by the Herald Sun, a group of young offenders have been arrested, including boys under fourteen.

A 13-year-old faces nine charges, including attempted aggravated burglary, theft of a motor vehicle, affray, unlawful assault, burglary, theft, robbery, failure to answer Bail and committing an indictable offence while on Bail.

A 12-year-old boy is facing charges including theft of a motor vehicle, affray, robbery, shop theft, and committing an indictable offence while on Bail.

These are not isolated incidents and happen all too frequently.

The questions we have for the Premier are –

  • How will you deal with young violent thugs when you lift the age to fourteen? Will Police have no power to arrest once their age is established?
  • Having established their age, then what do the Police do with them? Put them back on the street to offend again?
  • What happens to the Police Cautioning Program that has served the State so well and is by far and away the most used and effective sanction when Police deal with young offenders? The caution will no longer be able to be offered in lieu of prosecution.
  • What are you going to tell the Victims – the offences committed by these young thugs hurt the Victim just as much, irrespective of the age of the perpetrator? Just because they were assaulted by a twelve-year-old, the damage is no less painful.
  • And what happens to the young perpetrator that will dissuade them from offending again?
  • What liability does the State carry for a failure to ensure the safety of the young perpetrators? It would seem a lot. There would be a ‘hue and cry’ if a young penetrator was seriously injured while committing a crime where the State failed, in their duty of care, to intervene in the childs criminal endeavours.
  • What protection is offered to victims of violent sex offenders in this cohort?
  • And of greatest concern is what happens when a young person in this cohort commits murder. It can and does happen.
  • If a young person is accused of a serious crime, that accusation may not leave them, which is particularly brutal if the child is innocent.
  • How do you propose to teach young people that there are consequences for unlawful acts?

The argument for the necessity of this move is not based on facts and will eliminate the option for a Police caution for children under fourteen.

“Of 5981 young people alleged to have committed an offence 56% received a caution, 45% were charged.

Consistent with the findings of previous studies, young people who were cautioned were less likely to re-offend than those charged. The current study also found a longer duration between the index incident and their first reoffending incident for cautioned young people as opposed to those charged.”

See- https://www.crimestatistics.vic.gov.au/research-and-evaluation/publications/youth-crime/the-cautious-approach-police-cautions-and-the

This government proposal has been suggested by people with little or no idea of the psyche of young people of this age.

  • If arrested, being sent home will be interpreted as, winning and beating the system.
  • Time for young people is now; no matter what they are told, if intercepted by the Police, they will immediately return to the social set that got them into criminality. (One of the great advantages leading to the success of the Police Cautioning Program is that it can be delivered in close time proximity to the offending, having a greater impact than a Court case some many months after the event from which the child has long moved on both in maturity and socially.)
  • These same young people are hazardous to the community because they have no concept of the consequences of their actions on victims.
  • The concept of Bail is also seen as them beating the system. They do not ignore the Bail but do not grasp what it means.

What is very obviously deficient in this proposal is what it intends to achieve.

Called progressive socialism, it is a concept heavy on the narrow emotive argument, a subjective bias of the perpetrator’s age, and sadly lacking in effectiveness.

Premier, if you want community support, please explain how you will reduce the suffering of Victims and how this proposal will benefit young people and steer them from a life of crime.

Avoiding consequences at that age, will instead ensure they become entrenched in a life of crime.