Crime turning corner after ‘disturbing’ surge: premier

Fraser Barton and Laine Clark |

Overall youth offences fell 10.7 per cent in the first quarter compared with that period in 2023.
Overall youth offences fell 10.7 per cent in the first quarter compared with that period in 2023.

Crime rates in Queensland are turning the corner after a “disturbing surge”, Premier Steven Miles says.

But newly appointed police commissioner Steve Gollschewski says it is too early to tell whether their crackdown is working.

A day after Queensland’s 2022-23 crime report was released with alarming stats, the state government announced millions would be spent on tackling youth crime.

It committed $13.55 million to expand a co-responders initiative in which youth workers assist at-risk juveniles and kids on bail.

Operating in 13 regions from Cairns to the Gold Coast, it will now be expanded to Goondiwindi and the Sunshine Coast.

A youth crime task force will also become a permanent operation.

More announcements are expected in the coming days with new laws set to be introduced to parliament next week to tackle youth crime.

After success in Townsville, a police helicopter is set to be introduced at Cairns, with the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay tipped to follow.

The news comes after the 2022-23 crime report revealed a 5.2 per cent increase in young offenders, with juveniles responsible for 55 per cent of all break-ins and stolen car offences.

Overall there was an 11.2 per cent increase in the state’s crime rate in 2022-23.

However the state government has provided their own updated stats, saying in the last nine months the crime rate had fallen by one per cent.

“In the 2022-23 financial year, there was a disturbing surge in crime rates,” Mr Miles told reporters on Tuesday.

“What we’ve seen …is that the efforts of our police are paying off and that those crime rates have turned a corner.

“We are seeing a reduction in those rates across the state.”

Mr Miles said youth offending had fallen more than 10 per cent since the introduction of Task Force Guardian, a dedicated deployed flying squad of detectives sent to targeted areas.

Newly appointed Queensland Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski.
Steve Gollschewski says it’s too early to say if a youth crime crackdown is working. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

However Mr Gollschewski wasn’t getting ahead of himself.

“The last nine months tells us crime has dropped by one per cent. It’s early days though, that’s why you have to be careful,” the police commissioner said.

“You have to make sure that what you’re doing is actually causing that change. 

“It’s heading in the right direction, particularly in the youth justice space.”

Advocacy group Voice for Victims will march on parliament on April 30 demanding youth crime action.

The government last week dissolved a youth justice select committee after bipartisan support disintegrated.

Voice for Victims’ Trudy Reading said the decision was upsetting after affected people spoke at public hearings.

“It took a lot of courage for them to come and speak about the trauma that they’ve gone through and now just to see this thrown around as a political football is deeply disappointing,” she told AAP.

She said the group would continue to push for detention as a last resort to be removed from the state’s Youth Justice Act.

“The proposals that we’ve put forward to the government over the last eight months have been for rehabilitation programs,” she said.

“But you can’t force all juveniles to go into these rehabilitation programs unless you remove detention as a last resort.

“Because at the moment they’re being spat back out again after a few months in detention.”

AAP