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.