IT’S TIME: As youth crime skyrockets Local MP calls for change to clean up Chinchilla’s streets. Pic: Nicholas Falconer
IT’S TIME: As youth crime skyrockets Local MP calls for change to clean up Chinchilla’s streets. Pic: Nicholas Falconer

‘Police are hamstrung’: Southwest youth crime up 200%

A TOWN ravaged by opportunistic and heartless juvenile criminals has left the residents of Chinchilla feeling fearful and violated as homes continue to be broken into and cars stolen at an alarming rate.

Every week in recent memory news headlines in Chinchilla have been dominated by stories of youth offenders breaking into homes, stealing cars and leaving innocent victims to pick up the pieces all the while "hamstrung" police make repeated attempted to crackdown on the problem.

Callide MP Colin Boyce said the criminal elements plaguing Chinchilla cannot be resolved with more police, instead it's the crime and punishment system that needs an overhaul.

Mr Boyce said young criminals took advantage of a system that only hands out "slaps on the wrist".

"The law needs to change; this institution of the youth justice system just does not work," Mr Boyce said.

"We as a community and as a society, we have to broker ways of dealing with that, and that's a big ask and a big problem... and what (legislation) is in place at the moment is simply not working.

"These young offenders are not stupid, they know the system just smacks them on the hand and lets them go."

Queensland Crime Statistics show since January, there has been 20 cars stolen, and 43 unlawful entry's committed in Chinchilla - and that's not including the months of June and July.

Mr Boyce said along with tougher legislation to keep crime down, education is key in creating lasting change by helping at-risk young offenders contribute to society in a more meaningful way.

"One of the big problems for me is Indigenous youth in custody," he said.

"They are not the only ones that commit crime… but if you just want to deal with that, one of the big problems that needs addressing is domestic violence.

"If we start addressing the domestic violence problem, we will start to address some of the youth incarceration (rates), and crime as well.

"It's a major root case of the problem, so education, the fact that many of these young people have nothing to do, they have low self-esteem, so put them in places where they can learn self-respect in discipline."

Mr Boyce said police are doing all they can to keep the streets safe, although there's only so much they can do within their power.

"The police in my view are hamstrung by the system… I spoke to many (officers), they will say it's not the fact they don't know who they are and they can't catch them, it's they get let out on the streets again, and Chinchilla has a group of young boys that are quite notorious for repeat offending," he said.

The Palaszczuk Government made amendments to the Youth Justice Act in December 2019 in hopes to keep children out of court, keep children out of custody, reduce reoffending and intervene early - although the LNP argues the bill had the opposite effect.

LNP shadow police Minister Dan Purdie said the Government's policies have led to more crime in south west communities, and if the LNP government is successful at the October state election, more will be done crack down on youth crime.

"Since Annastacia Palaszczuk became Premier, robbery in the southwest district has increased by 200 per cent, unlawful entry is up 30 per cent and serious assault incidents 21 per cent higher," Mr Purdie said.

"LNP Leader Deb Frecklington has unveiled a raft of plans to cut crime, including a comprehensive three strikes policy for youth offenders and restore breach of bail as an offence."

Mr Purdie said the LNP will ensure more support is available to Chinchilla Police and CrimeStoppers, taking pressure off PoliceLink.

"Only the LNP has a plan to properly resource our hardworking police officers in Chinchilla and across Queensland," he said.

"Community safety is our priority and that means ensuring our police have the resources they need to keep the community safe."