Ankle Trackers Floated To Solve QLD’s Youth Crime Crisis

Former police boss says the idea may be "a bit unacceptable" to many.

Young offenders could be tracked with electronic monitoring ankle bracelets under controversial new measures proposed by the Queensland government.

Former Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson has spent nearly six months compiling a report into how to curb the State’s youth crime problem. One of the more audacious recommendations made would see young criminals freed from detention and tagged with ankle bracelets instead.

Atkinson admitted it would be a tough sell, saying some people would find the idea "a bit unacceptable".

"But it’s not something I think we should dismiss entirely. What we’ve asked is that the government look at that as a possibility," he said.

Electronic ankle bracelets, of the type used in the United States (Getty Images/Librebynexus)

Another recommendation would see police given more discretion not to prosecute minor crimes like fare evasion and ‘street offences.’

“Do we want the courts clogged up with children who commit minor offences?” Atkinson said.

“What we’re saying is that there’s some program a child could be diverted to which may assist in preventing that reoffending.”

Among the other 77 recommendations are:

  • raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12
  • aiming for a 50% reduction in number of children entering detention for the first time by 2020
  • resources for schools with large numbers of children with ‘problem behaviours’
  • alternative schooling options for children in the youth justice system
  • special training and accreditation for children’s court lawyers
  • appointing ‘community champions’ to set example in high-risk areas

Atkinson's report highlights the importance of early intervention stopping kids spiraling into a life of crime.

It will be a long time before we see which, if any, of the recommendations are adopted by the government. The report was so rushed there has not been broader consultation on any of the issues raised.

Youth detention centres in QLD are full (Getty Images)

Still, the state government says it is the first of many steps in the right direction.

“Bob Atkinson’s report shows that we are a much better chance of changing a young person’s behaviour when they are 12 than when they are 27,” said Minister for Child Safety, Di Farmer.

The minister hopes to have figured out which measures the government will adopt by the end of the year.

Queensland’s youth detention facilities are cripplingly overcrowded. A report earlier in the year said some children were forced to sleep on centre floors due to a lack of space.

The Queensland government has been transitioning 17-year-olds in adult jails back into youth facilities, adding to the strain on the system.

Interestingly, a number of them chose to stay in the adult system to pursue work and training programs that were available there.