Youth crime on the decline – is it police intervention or public programs?

Anti-youth crime agencies from around the state come together for a forum as Queensland Police reports a decrease in youth offending for the first quarter of 2024.

Apr 16, 2024, updated Apr 16, 2024
Participants in youth programs which aim to intervene and re-engage at-risk kids. (Image: Supplied).

Participants in youth programs which aim to intervene and re-engage at-risk kids. (Image: Supplied).

The Queensland Police statement reported a 10.7 percent decrease in youth offending in the first quarter of 2024, in comparison to the same period last year. 

In the wake of this figure, government agencies including representatives from the Queensland Police Service, PCYC, Department of Youth Justice, Project Booyah, Department of Education, Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Youth Co-Responder Teams and other agencies joined together for a one-day Youth Engagement and Programs Conference.

The conference discussed current youth crime trends, the prevention of youth crime through community-based partnerships, and the capabilities of current and future programs. 

Acting Assistant Commissioner Andrew Massingham said the results were promising. 

“Programs like Project Booyah, our Youth Co-Responder Teams and youth engagement programs with our partner agencies make small steps forward in the lives of young people every day. It is encouraging to see those efforts, and efforts 24/7 by our frontline police, are beginning to have an impact,” he said.

Police report that offences committed against property by youth offenders – such as unlawful use of a vehicle, stealing or breaking and entering – were down by 7.8 percent while offences committed against the person – like  robbery or assault – were down by 14.2 percent. 

Police initiatives against youth crime include high-visibility police patrols under Operation Whisky Unison, assisting local police to track down recidivist offenders with Taskforce Guardian and receiving exemption to the state’s own Human Rights Act to use police watch houses and adult prisons as youth detention centres.

The majority of the other agencies present at the conference participate in joint efforts within the early intervention and prevention space, aiming to re-engage young people with education, training, employment, and community. Youth program Project Booya, for example, helps at-risk young people address underlying issues contributing to their offending behaviour. 

Operating in 11 locations around Queensland, 199 participants took part in Project Booyah last year, with 84 percent successfully graduating the course, 73 percent of participants re-entering the education system, 42 percent engaging in further education or training, and 35 percent successfully obtaining employment. 

Acting Superintendent Rob Fleischer said these joint efforts were making great efforts across the state. 

“Hearing of all the incredible work done across all agencies at today’s conference shows the dedication by all to intervene in the lives of at-risk young people and help get them back on track.

“From education, health, cultural programs, sports and much more – programs and services that address the social issues that contribute to young people offending, have the power to redirect their behaviour, and stop them from heading further down the wrong path.

“I commend every agency and service playing their part in early intervention strategies, as helping these young people means a safer community for all.”

As promising as this news may seem, we can expect to hear more about the ‘Youth Crime Crisis’, as experts allege it has as much do with public’s perception of crime rates as to the reality of crime statistics, and as politicians and press continue to see youth crime as an easy hot button topic with which to evoke public emotion. 


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