Last weekend I attended a meeting of over 100 Yeppoon residents concerned about rising crime levels.
I heard stories about people's homes being invaded while they were there. Someone recounted how young juveniles laughed at the prospect that they could be arrested, knowing that they faced just a slap on the wrist. Another couple had a car stolen at 2 am and the assailants broadcast it live on Snapchat. Even with this self-incriminating evidence they are not behind bars.
The state government seemed really good at arresting you if you weren't wearing a mask during COVID. They are not so good at locking up juveniles who film themselves stealing cars.
There was a useful discussion about what we can do to deter crime. Lock our doors, neighbourhood watch, etc. Still, people should not have to take the law into their own hands. Providing a safe environment for families is a basic job of our state government. Our state government is failing to protect us.
Residents are right to be concerned about rising crime levels. Since 2019, robberies in the Central region of Queensland (that's us) are up 80 per cent.
What changed in 2019? In 2019, the Queensland Government changed the *Youth Justice Act*. In their own words these changes had the "objective of removing legislative barriers to enable young people to be granted bail." The changes told judges that the principle should be "detention as a last resort", and that "the bail decision-making framework" incorporated an "explicit presumption in favour of release."
These are the Queensland Government's own words describing their own act. It is hard to believe that our own local Labor MPs voted for this. I don't know about you, but I don't think the criminals that invade our homes or steal our cars deserve an "explicit presumption in favour of release."
These changes were such a debacle that last year the Queensland Government did roll back some of the changes. Now, the presumption in favour of release can be overturned in cases of "serious offences". But this still leaves far too much wriggle room for a sometimes weak judiciary to put juveniles back on the streets.
We should push for the complete removal of a "presumption in favour of release". Instead, if there is strong evidence that an accused as committed a crime, say for example they have broadcast the crime on their own Snapchat account, then bail should be denied.
Otherwise the incentives are all wrong. These young criminals are not stupid. If there is overwhelming evidence of their crime, and they know they are likely to be found guilty and do jail time, then they have little disincentive from continuing to commit crimes while on bail.
The frustrating thing is that the cops know the people committing the vast bulk of the offences in our region. But given Labor's weak laws our police's hands are tied.
We need to back our police with tougher laws that makes crime pay again. How frustrating must it be for our police to have to re-arrest the same people time and time again, only to see Labor's catch and release approach force them to do it all over again.
It is time for the Queensland Labor Government to do their job and keep our streets safe. If you agree contact your local state MP and tell them to push for tougher bail laws.