Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021
On 25 February 2021, Hon Mark Ryan MP, Minister for Police and Corrective Services and Minister for Fire and Emergency Services, introduced the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (the Bill) and referred it to the Legal Affairs and Safety Committee (the committee) for detailed consideration.
The Bill amends the Youth Justice Act 1992 to respond to the characteristics of the offending behaviours of serious recidivist youth offenders and strengthen the youth justice bail framework. The amendments to the Youth Justice amendment build on the Queensland Government’s Five Point Action Plan, announced in March 2020, which complements the Youth Justice Strategy.
The Bill also enacts a range of amendments to the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000, in relation to knife crime and hooning offences. The primary policy objective of the amendments relating to knife crime is to minimise the risk of physical harm caused by knife crime in Safe Night Precincts. The Bill includes amendments to minimise risks of harm associated with the unlawful possession of knives in the Surfers Paradise CBD and Broadbeach CBD Safe Night Precincts. The objectives of the amendments relating to hooning laws are to protect the community and road users from the risk of a range of antisocial and unsafe driving behaviours, known as hooning.
The proposed amendments relating to hooning offences will strengthen owner onus provisions by expanding the evasion offence notice scheme outlined in the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act to apply to all type 1 vehicle related offences listed in the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act. This amendment will require owners of motor vehicles involved in these offences to make declarations and provide information that may be used to assist the investigation of hooning offences.
A copy of the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 can be found here.
On Friday 26 March 2021, the Legal Affairs and Safety Committee welcomed feedback from our Mr Bill Potts, Founding Director of Potts Lawyers, and our Mr Michael Warren, solicitor at Potts Lawyers. Mr Potts has over 40 years of criminal law experience and is an accredited criminal law specialist. Mr Potts was also the former Queensland Law Society President and Counsellor and has weighed in the issues relating to the youth in our community for decades. Mr Warren is a former Queensland Government Department of Youth Justice employee. Mr Warren was a previous youth worker, caseworker and court coordinator and has over five years of experience working with the Gold Coast youth.
Here is what Mr Potts and Mr Warren had to say about the new laws:
Bail Changes and Electronic Monitoring Devices
- The high-risk recidivist young people are our most vulnerable people in our community. There are many factors that contribute to their offending, including lower socio-economic status, family and domestic violence, and mental health concerns.
- A punitive approach to amending the bail laws will increase the number of young people on remand in detention centres.
- Research shows that the incarceration of young people increases their risk of reoffending. By increasing the punitive approach to bail laws, the numbers of remand will increase and in turn, the risk of reoffending will increase.
- Electronic Monitoring Devices can only be used as a means of monitoring a young person’s location at any given time. Young people are often impulsive and lack consequential thinking and often commit offences in a non-sophisticated manner. These young people are often caught by police as a result of their offending. The devices will be able to assist in the prosecution of any crime whilst being subject to the electronic devices while on bail however will not reduce the risk of it occurring in the first place.
- There are further practical issues with Electronic Monitoring Devices that include our highest-risk recidivist young people being having access to mobile phones and charging ports, when these young people are the at-most risk of being homeless.
Hooning and Knife Crime Laws
- Changes to the Knife and Hooning laws will increase community safety and may reduce the overall offending rates, however, need the reforms need to be managed carefully.
- The Parliament will have to draw their attention to the Human Rights Act 2020, including the right to silence, the right to not incriminate oneself and the right to privacy.
- The proposed hooning laws reverse the onus of guilt onto the owner of a vehicle when identified by police, a measure which is already in place for most traffic matters, including speeding, running red lights, etc. however, the proposed hooning laws carry much more serious penalties including imprisonment.
- The proposed metal detecting of knives, while proposed as non-invasive measure of crime prevention, invade upon one’s privacy when police are given powers to search a person after the detection of metal on one’s person.
- In relation to the right to silence and the right to not incriminate oneself, the proposed hooning laws interfere with these rights as police require you to either contest to the offence or you are presumed to be guilty.
- As to the right to privacy, police officers, if given the power to use metal detection wands, should be required to search one’s person by a same sex officer and in a private setting. A search on the street, in the proposed locations of Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, will be entirely inappropriate.