Where’s my crim? GPS shortages, delays letting kids off

 

A SHORTAGE of GPS trackers could give hardcore teen criminals free rein through the city after a major bungle in the State Government's new youth crime plan.

The Townsville Bulletin can confirm there are no GPS trackers housed in Townsville, despite the government announcing the implementation of the devices as part of its new seven-pronged youth crime pan.

The Bulletin also understands that it takes multiple days for the trackers to arrive in the region from Brisbane, allowing the recidivist offenders days of free rein to potentially commit more crime.

On Tuesday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the GPS tracker trial would be rolled out at Moreton, north Brisbane, Logan, Gold Coast and Townsville.

Currently, GPS trackers are used on high-risk adult offenders, including sex offenders and terrorists.

GPS trackers have to be flown to Townsville from Brisbane if needed for an offender. Photo Tom Huntley
GPS trackers have to be flown to Townsville from Brisbane if needed for an offender. Photo Tom Huntley

It is understood that each individual device needs to be ordered from the southeast after an offender is ordered to wear one.

This process takes a matter of days, and adult offenders must sign a legal form to promise they will return to the watch house to be fitted with the tracker.

It is understood magistrates can choose to either let the offender out while they wait for their device, or keep them in custody.

The Bulletin understands some police are concerned that if the same leniency is given to young recidivist offenders, it gives them a chance for a short crime spree, or to not show up at all.

The State Government's GPS trial will encompass 16 and 17-year-old offenders who the court believes are recidivist offenders.

The Bulletin understands there are up to 20 recidivist offenders, aged between 16 and 17 years old, who fit the bill in Townsville.

It is also understood there is about 16-20 children under 16-years-old that could easily fit in the same category.

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll and Assistant Commissioner Brett Schafferius in Townsville. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll and Assistant Commissioner Brett Schafferius in Townsville. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the trial will be reviewed after six months to determine whether the age needs to be lowered.

Opposition spokesman for Attorney-General Tim Nichols said the trackers pose a range of issues, and needed to be backed by proper legislation.

Tim Nichols. Pic Annette Dew
Tim Nichols. Pic Annette Dew

"Legislation will be required. It's a trial, we want to see how it performs," Mr Nichols said.

"The issue really here is, is it going to work with 16 and 17 year olds, and a whole lot of technical issues that need to be resolved, including monitoring, and charging the batteries."

Under Queensland law, it is an offence for an adult to tamper with their electronic monitoring device, or to breach their bail conditions by going beyond the device's limits.

The State Government has not been clear on whether juveniles will face any penalties for the same actions.

Mr Nichols said the fundamental flaw in the government's new plans was not bringing back breach of bail as an offence.

"It's worth a try, we certainly won't get in the way of it, I think there needs to be some serious questions about it though."

Police Minister Mark Ryan said GPS trackers have been used in the judicial system for years, but would not disclose how much an individual device costs.

Mr Ryan said "there will be consequences" if an individual tampered or removed their trackers, "including being put in detention".

Queensland Corrective Services stated there is 33 GPS trackers in use in Townsville, which is just over 10 per cent of the total number of devices in use across the state.

QCS said the trackers were "moved around the state as required" to meet the "requirements" of the courts.

 

shayla.bulloch@news.com.au

Originally published as Where's my crim? GPS shortages, delays letting kids off


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