A permanent high-visibility police operation has kicked off in Queensland amid a spate of violent youth crime in the state, with the government backflipping on its new youth justice strategy.
Minister for Police Mark Ryan on Thursday announced the new extreme policing operation, designed to target youth crime and enhance community safety, which commenced on March 1.
The announcement comes after a series of recent high-profile deaths involving alleged youth offenders – including the alleged stabbing of Emma Lovell in North Lakes last year and the death of Toowoomba photographer Robert Brown.
Operation Victor Unison will involve additional police patrols in “intelligence driven” youth crime hotspot areas including public spaces and residential areas.
Minister for Police Mark Ryan announced the new police operation. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
The boosted patrols will be co-ordinated alongside regular policing operations, with officers walking through shopping precincts and conducting bail checks with young people.
The operation will also coincide with the introduction of weapon-detecting wands within safe night precincts.
Minister Ryan said the high police presence will have “many benefits” in keeping the community safe.
“Having extra police out on patrol has a strong deterrence factor and sends a clear message to would-be offenders,” he said.
“It is also about enabling business owners and community members to speak with their local police about issues affecting their area.
“The extra patrols are over and above normal calls for service and everyday policing operations in areas where they are needed most.”
Acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Wheeler said the Queensland Police Service has received “very positive feedback” from business owners and community members in affected areas.
Toowoomba man Robert Brown died a week after he was allegedly set upon by four teenagers in the Toowoomba CBD on February 6. Picture: Toowoomba Photographic Society
“We are pleased to roll out extra high-visibility patrols in hot spots across the state as part of this new expanded operation,” he said.
“This ‘boots-on-the-ground style’ operation will see officers in marked police vehicles patrolling streets, walking through shopping centres, retail and restaurant precincts, stopping in at service stations and really engaging with the community.”
The Queensland government backflipped last month on its youth justice strategy and planned to reintroduce breach of bail as an offence for juveniles due to mounting pressure.
Labor has clarified the changes it proposes to introduce will simply take existing breach of bail laws which currently apply to adults and extend them to young offenders.
As part of the reforms, $100m will go towards intensive case management programs across the Brisbane, Logan, Toowoomba, Moreton, Gold Coast, Rockhampton and Ipswich areas to target “chronic” offenders aged 13-17.
Another $17m will be allocated for youth justice workers to partner with police and $9m will be invested for assistance for victims of crime.
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