Queensland Authorities Is Contemplating Bail GPS Monitoring Units To Assist Battle Juvenile Delinquency

Acting Prime Minister Steven Miles said the Queensland government would consider using GPS tracking devices for teenagers on bail as the debate continues on ways to tackle juvenile delinquency.

Important points:

Trackers were recommended as an alternative to incarceration in a 2018 report on youth justice by Bob Atkinson, but the recommendation was never adopted.

It has been suggested that the government consider using electronic surveillance in conjunction with community or home detention as an alternative to juvenile detention.

The Queensland Police Union (QPU) yesterday called for the devices to be used after several recent incidents allegedly involving recurrent young offenders on bail.

Mr Miles said he would support the use of GPS tracking devices if research showed it was effective.

A group of teenagers allegedly driving a stolen car dangerously around Townsville brought the problem to light. (Supplied: Troy Byrne)

“We are happy to consider any suggestion. For such technologies, we have monitored the evolution of the technology over time,” he said.

“I think it is important that Bob Atkinson, in making this recommendation, provided a possible alternative to incarceration. It was not referring to youth on bail, but we can obviously consider that now.

“I understand this was being considered by the agencies at the time, but as I said, all of these technologies are evolving and we can monitor their progress. When they become useful we will consider them.”

Community-led initiatives better

Gracelyn Smallwood, an indigenous elder and human rights activist from Townsville, said yesterday that she did not support the idea of ​​bailing children into wearing GPS tracking devices.

Professor Smallwood also condemned QPU President Ian Leavers’ suggestion that Queensland juvenile offenders overpower indigenous peoples.

However, she said that young indigenous peoples involved in crime need to grapple with programs to help them deal with “unresolved heartache, loss and trauma” but that the community needs to unite and address the problem together.

Three smiling women under green trees.  A young girl on the left holds an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag. Human rights activist Professor Gracelyn Smallwood (right) urges policymakers to take a holistic approach to crime prevention (ABC North Queensland: Chloe Chomicki).

“If you don’t understand the real story, the culture that was taken away, the trauma, the grief and the loss, the crime will never be solved,” said Professor Smallwood.

Professor Smallwood said funding for juvenile crime programs in the state needs to be revised and that culturally appropriate, community-led initiatives should be given preference.

“Bottom-up programs with elders who are respected in the community and who restore law and order and culture to these young people.

“If you give them enough rope on culture and law that they don’t have, and give them enough trauma counseling, we can see some changes,” she said.

“Caution is required”: report

In the 2018 report, Mr. Atkinson said the technology is suitable for a very small number of children and that “caution should be exercised if this technology is extended to children.”

“It would be limited to children who have supported stable housing to ensure success,” Atkinson said.

“Support from parents or caregivers to ensure compliance would be required, for example, to recharge batteries and stay at home after curfew.

A tracking bracelet on a man's ankle. According to the report, children need stable parenting or caregiver support to ensure compliance. (Delivered)

“Given the very small number of children this technology could be suitable for, it would likely be prohibitive for the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women (DCSYW) to have its own infrastructure and an electronic surveillance system.”

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Mr Miles said the government did not pursue the recommendation after it was reviewed and rejected at the agency level.

“Bob Atkinson made a recommendation that this should be considered. I understand this has been considered. Of his 77 recommendations, 76 have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented,” Miles said.

“He did not recommend the use of GPS for those on bail; he recommended it as an alternative to detention for those convicted.

“But now that it has been brought up again, we’ll think about it.”

Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard said she supported the revision of the idea.

“If there is evidence to support its use then let’s look at this, it’s all on the table,” she said.

“The juvenile justice system is a system that requires constant vigilance, and we must constantly examine how we can improve it as the nature of the offenses and crimes changes.”

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