Kiddie crims on a rampage
YOUNG offenders are "greatly over-represented" for burglary offences and nearly half of all people charged with robbery were children, alarming new figures reveal.
The Queensland Crime Report, released this month, shows that children aged 10 to 17 comprised 48 per cent of robbery offenders in 2018/19.
During the same period more than 50 per cent of people charged with burglary were aged 10 to 19.
The reports revealed that children accounted for 44 per cent of all arsonists, 40 per cent of car thieves, and 37 per cent of trespassers.
Nearly 40 per cent of people charged with property damage were also children.
Overall minors accounted for about 16 per cent all offenders proceeded against by police in 2018-19.
Over the last decade the biggest increase in youth crime has been in the drug arena. The number of juvenile drug offenders increased from 4145 children to more than 6560 in that period.
Car stealing and fraud committed by children also increased significantly, the report showed.
As a result car theft has soared in Queensland by 15 per cent in the last year.
Other theft (excl. unlawful entry) was the most prevalent offence among child offenders (10,600).
But it wasn't just property crime where young crims excelled. Children aged 10 to 17 were more likely to be charged with assault than any other age group, accounting for more than 20 per cent of all offenders.
While the number of children charged with murder was slightly down (three or less) the number of minors facing manslaughter or attempted murder offences increased to at least seven compared to at least two last year.
Youth crime has emerged as a hot-button issue particularly in regional areas like Townsville where locals have set a Facebook to catch teens stealing their cars.
Police are also tackling the problem head on with Commissioner Katarina Carroll appointing the new deputy commissioner Paul Taylor for regional Queensland to be based in Townsville.
According to the report, since 2009/10 the number of child offenders has decreased by more than 30 per cent to 11,936 juvenile criminals in 2018/19. However the number of male and female indigenous child offenders increased, 32 per cent and 46 per cent respectively, in that time period.
The unique child offender rate also declined to 2,305 per 100,000 people aged 10-17 years - the lowest level recorded in a decade.
However Bond University criminologist and former Queensland police officer Dr Terry Goldsworthy said this only told half the story.
"I think if you look at youth crime, it's not necessarily the number of offenders it's the amount of crime they're committing," he said.
"If you have one kid who goes out and commits a 100 crimes that's worse than having 10 kids commit 10 crimes.
"People don't care whether a different kid stole their car and broke into their house they just care that someone broke in and stole the car."
Given robbery and car theft have significantly increased and young people are overrepresented for those offences Dr Goldsworthy said:
"It may be the case you got more hardened kids committing more offences".
Youth crime has turned into a political football with the LNP labelling Labor's introduction of softer bail laws last year a "catch and release" program for kindergarten crooks.
The State Government has defended its position pointing to the reduction in the number of unique juvenile offenders and initially blaming the courts for letting repeat offenders go free.
However last month the Government said the new Youth Justice Act would be rewritten with changes made to youth bail laws.
The announcement included "a five-point action plan" which would entail a "police blitz" on bail and $2 million for local community's to address the problem.
LNP leader Deb Frecklington said the Opposition would scrap the laws and reintroduce the offence of breaching bail for minors if it was elected later this year.
CRIMES THAT ROCKED THE STATE IN PAST 12 MONTHS
Dr Luping Zeng was allegedly shot dead by a 17-year-old in the garage of his MacGregor home during a bungled robbery in April last year.
Angus Beaumont, 15, was walking home from McDonald's when he and others were allegedly attacked by three boys last month. Angus suffered fatal stab wounds and two 14-year-old boys were charged with murder.
Maleny teenager Jacob Hopkins was killed when the allegedly stolen car he was travelling in slammed into a car and a pole in Rothwell, north of Brisbane. A 14-year-old Waterford West boy was charged over the incident in May.
In every parent's worst nightmare two children were stabbed at school west of Brisbane in February. A 12-year-old boy suffered serious injuries, which though not life threatening, saw him rushed to hospital. A 13-year-old boy who intervened suffered minor hand injuries.
A 14-year-old was charged with two counts of attempted murder.
Two teenagers were charged over a terrifying bushfire that ripped through bush land at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast in September.
The house of 90-year-old Pam Murphy was destroyed and thousands of residents were evacuated during the ember storm.
A 14-year-old male, of Peregian Springs, and a 15-year-old female, of Coolum Beach, were charged with endangering particular property by fire.
Originally published as Kiddie crims on a rampage: Youth crimes that rocked Qld