Judge’s solution for youth crime epidemic

 

JUDGES and magistrates should be using their powers to order parents of unruly juveniles to pay for the damage from their children's crime, a retired Gold Coast judge has said.

Judge Clive Wall set out a list of recommendations in a paper he prepared seven years ago to tackle youth crime on the Gold Coast and has been left frustrated that "nothing has been done".

When asked what steps had to be taken to stop the current youth crime epidemic, Judge Wall urged the Government and judiciary to "read my paper".

"Nothing has been done, everything I said in that paper still applies today," he said of the document he wrote on the effectiveness of the Children's Court.

Judge Wall was one of the District Court judges operating out of Southport permanently from 2007 until his retirement in 2016.

Gold Coast Judge Clive Wall just before his retirement in 2016. He is now urging the judiciary and state government to read his 7-year-old paper on youth crime. Picture: Tim Marsden
Gold Coast Judge Clive Wall just before his retirement in 2016. He is now urging the judiciary and state government to read his 7-year-old paper on youth crime. Picture: Tim Marsden

As a part of his duties he was also an accredited Children's Court of Queensland judge and handed down countless sentences to juvenile offenders.

A key part of the 21-page document Judge Wall published in March 2013 was to encourage the judiciary to use the powers they already had to hold parents accountable for their children's actions.

Under the Youth Justice Act, parents can be ordered to pay compensation for a child's misbehaviour if the parent "may have contributed to the fact the offence happened by not adequately supervising the child".

Judge Wall said the provision was rarely used but designed to ensure parents were playing their part in disciplining their children.

He said the judiciary also needed to be more aware about what was happening in the community.

He echoed sentiments made in 2013 that the focus was too often on the child offender and not on the victim or the community.

Judge Walls aid the focus needs to be on the victim as well as the child offender.
Judge Walls aid the focus needs to be on the victim as well as the child offender.

"The judiciary have to approach juvenile crime as a problem and that they can play a part in solving the problem," Judge Wall said.

His comments came after a 12-year-old who was too small to be seen in the dock was this week given a restorative justice order for an armed robbery of a Burleigh Heads convenience store.

A group of youths are also before the courts for the alleged murder of teenager Jack Beasley in December last year.

Judge Wall said the community was expressing concerns about youth crime and calling for something to be done on social media and the letters pages of the Bulletin.

"The only people who don't (have concerns) are the judiciary," he said.

Judge Wall said other suggestions he made in 2013 were still relevant today and included all juveniles who reoffend on a good behaviour order being resentenced, extending the time a Children's Court magistrate could impose probation to two years, adding victims to the list of people who could apply for sentence reviews, and provisions that would allow consequences for juveniles who breached wholly or partly suspended detention orders.



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