Queensland government plans to use GPS tracking devices for juveniles on bail to fight youth crime

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Acting Prime Minister Steven Miles has said the Queensland government will consider the use of GPS tracking devices for juveniles on bail, as debate continues over how to tackle youth crime.

Stalkers were recommended as an alternative to detention in a 2018 report on youth justice by Bob Atkinson, but the recommendation was never adopted.

It has been suggested that the government consider the use of electronic surveillance, as well as community or home detention, as an alternative to placing minors in a youth detention center.

The Queensland Police Union (QPU) called for the use of the devices yesterday after several recent incidents allegedly involving repeat young offenders on bail.

Mr Miles said he would support the use of GPS tracking devices if research showed they were effective.

A group of young people who allegedly drove a stolen car dangerously around Townsville shed light on the problem.(

Provided: Troy Byrne

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“We are happy to consider any proposal, in the case of technologies like this we monitor the development of the technology over time,” he said.

“I think it’s important, when Bob Atkinson made that recommendation, it was like a possible alternative to detention. It wasn’t about juveniles on bail, but obviously we can look at it now.

“I understand that was considered by the agencies at the time, but like I said, all of these technologies are advancing and we can monitor their advancements, and if and when they become useful, we will consider them.”

Best community initiatives

Yesterday, Gracelyn Smallwood, an Indigenous elder and human rights activist from Townsville, said she did not support the idea of ​​forcing children on bail to wear GPS tracking devices.

Professor Smallwood also condemned the suggestion by QPU Chairman Ian Leavers that young Queensland offenders were largely indigenous.

But she said Indigenous youth involved in crime needed to participate in programs to help them cope with “unresolved grief, loss and trauma,” but the community needed to come together and solve the problem together. .

Three smiling women under green trees.  A young girl on the left holds an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag.
Human rights activist Professor Gracelyn Smallwood (right) urges policymakers to take a holistic approach to crime prevention.(

ABC North Queensland: Chloé Chomicki

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“If you don’t understand the real story, the culture that was taken away, the trauma, the grief and the loss, the crime will never be solved,” said Professor Smallwood.

Professor Smallwood said there needs to be a funding overhaul for youth crime programs in the state and said culturally appropriate community initiatives should be preferred.

“Programs that come from a bottom-up approach, with elders who are respected in the community, who bring law, order and culture back to these young people.

“If you give them enough culture and legal strings that they don’t have and give them enough trauma counseling, we can see changes,” she said.

“We must be careful”: report

In the 2018 report, Mr Atkinson said the technology would be suitable for a very small number of children and that “caution should be exercised in extending this technology to children.”

“Support from parents or caregivers to ensure compliance would be needed, for example, recharging batteries and staying home after curfew.

A tracking bracelet on a man's ankle.
The report says children would need stable support from parents or guardians to ensure compliance.(

Provided

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“With the very small number of children for whom this technology could be suitable, it would likely be prohibitive for the Department of Child, Youth and Women’s Safety (DCSYW) to set up its own infrastructure and system of electronic surveillance. “

Mr Miles said the government failed to act on the recommendation after it was reviewed and rejected at the agency level.

“Bob Atkinson recommended that this be taken into account, I understand it has been taken into account, and of his 77 recommendations, 76 have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented,” said Mr. Miles.

“He didn’t recommend the use of GPS for those on bail, he recommended it as an alternative to detention for those who have been sentenced.

“But now that he’s been brought forward again, we’ll take a look at him.”

Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard said she supported revising the idea.

“If there is any evidence to support its use, then we look at this, it’s all on the table,” she said.

“The youth justice system is a system that requires constant vigilance and we must constantly seek out how we can improve it as the nature of offenses and offenses change as well. “


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