Qld scraps detention as last resort for young criminals

Steven Miles' government has faced pressure to change the principle of detention as a last resort.

Steven Miles' government has faced pressure to change the principle of detention as a last resort. Photo: Getty

The Queensland government will scrap detention as a last resort for offenders amid growing concerns over youth crime.

Premier Steven Miles on Wednesday confirmed the clause “detention as a last resort” in the Youth Justice Act would be amended to children should be detained in custody where “necessary” to keep Queenslanders safe.

“We’ve seen a lot of misrepresentation and confusion suggesting that the courts are unable to impose detention,” he said in a statement.

“I am concerned that the existing wording of the principle is undermining confidence in the laws and the courts.”

The clause will be redrafted to clarify young offenders should be detained in custody where necessary when other measures of prevention and intervention are not sufficient.

It also says children should not be detained for longer than necessary.

“While prevention and intervention are essential, there are cases where detention is necessary for community safety,” Miles said.

“These changes will remove any doubt that detention should be used in those circumstances.”

The Miles government has faced heightening pressure to change the principle, particularly by the opposition with one of its top October election promises to be removing the clause.

Tuesday’s parliament sitting was littered with questions from the LNP to the government as to why detention as a last resort would not be removed, with Labor bowing to pressure that evening during a late-night caucus meeting.

A raft of youth crime changes were introduced to parliament on Tuesday under a $1.28 billion Community Safety Plan.

One of these was expanding the trial of random knife-wanding operations dubbed “Jack’s Law” from just night life precincts and public transport to shopping centres and pubs.

Jack’s Law has gained interstate interest since it was passed in March 2023, four years after the stabbing death of teenager Jack Beasley on the Gold Coast

The government is also looking to make good on its promise to expand children’s court access to media, victims, and their families.

This change comes after the murder of Ipswich grandmother Vyleen White who was stabbed in a shopping centre but due to the offenders being youths, the media was shut out from the court proceedings.

An independent Victims’ Commissioner to support and advocate for the needs of those impacted by sexual violence will also be permanently established alongside a review board that assesses systemic issues and necessary changes.


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