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Advocate says GPS tracking device could act as ‘trophy’ for offenders

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Slapping GPS tracking devices on young repeat offenders could act as a trophy for juveniles and fail to reduce crime in the Sunshine State, a youth advocate has warned.

The drastic measure was among sweeping reforms proposed by the Palaszczuk government in February after a spate of horrific deaths.

Strengthened bail laws as well as a presumption against bail was also pitched by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk who appointed the state’s former anti-terror boss to head a Youth Crime Taskforce.

The tough measures were introduced into state parliament to satisfy a furious community after a pregnant couple were struck and killed by a stolen Land Cruiser on Australia Day allegedly driven by a teen.

RELATED: Palaszczuk reveals response to youth crime crisis

But about 20 Indigenous incarceration and youth justice advocates slammed the suite of reforms at a public hearing into the proposed amendments at parliament on Monday, insisting the attempt to increase the opportunity to detain young offenders would increase the likelihood of reoffending.

The plan to trial electronic monitoring devices on high-risk offenders aged 16 and 17 was particularly ridiculed by Inspire Youth and Family Service Inc program manager Amy Wilson.

She said a similar scheme was introduced while she was working in the UK where juveniles viewed the devices as a badge of honour.

“What we found was young people used them as a trophy, which really didn’t help to try to change that narrative,” she told the hearing.

“Young people are not able to emotionally regulate themselves so they’re constantly responding in this emotional way, so when we’re putting tags on people and we’re incarcerating them it’s not helping them to learn.”

The Palaszczuk government’s pledge to toughen punishments for young offenders proved there was a misunderstanding of the problem among politicians, Anglicare’s children and family services spokesperson Tammy Lloyd said.

“The government often talks about being tough on crime and tough on young offenders as though it is the same thing,” she told the hearing on Monday.

“It is not … being tough on crime is about addressing the reasons for offending, not just sending an ambulance to the bottom of the cliff.”

The continued debate comes as the state’s new youth crime boss said young Queenslanders were turning deadly behaviour into entertainment on social media and inspiring others to do the same.

Assistant Police Commissioner Cheryl Scanlon told NCA NewsWire one of her biggest frustrations was seeing juveniles sharing footage of themselves committing crimes.

“What they’re doing is committing criminal offences,” she said.

“It’s dangerous and people lose their lives through that.

“So it’s a serious issue when people make light of that, or they use social media to broadcast that as some sort of badge of honour that effectively becomes evidence.”

The breakdown of the proposed new rules include:

  • Require fitting of electronic monitoring devices (GPS trackers): As a condition of bail for recidivist high risk offenders aged 16 and 17
  • Create a presumption against bail: For youth offenders arrested for committing further serious indictable offences (such as breaking and entering, serious sexual assault and armed robbery) while on bail
  • Seek assurances from parents and guardians that bail conditions will be complied with before an offender is released
  • Strengthen existing bail laws: The Youth Justice Act will be amended to include a reference to the community being protected from recidivist youth offenders in the Charter of Youth Justice Principles

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