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.

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

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

“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.