1.6 Youth Justice
The Victorian Government recently conducted a review into the Youth Justice System in Victoria after a series of riots within the Parkville and Malmsbury youth justice facilities.
These riots required substantial police resourcing in the intervention and management of these incidents (Ref: 5). Situations like this will continue to occur unless facilities in youth justice centres are bolstered and greater importance is given to preventing youth crime from occurring in the first place by placing a greater emphasis on proactive policing initiatives.
TPAV has welcomed a Government commitment to act upon many of the 126 recommendations made following a recent review of the Youth Justice System by the Standing Committee on Legal and Social Issues. The Association is supportive of the establishment of Youth Control Orders which will provide a new sentencing option for youth to engage in education, work or training. The Association is also supportive of the statutory youth diversion scheme emerging from the recommendations, which seek to address the underlying causes of low-level offending before it escalates.
- Youth Justice Centres must be appropriately resourced to ensure that they can sufficiently self-manage security incidents without relying upon regular police intervention. Facilities must be designed to support the good order and management of persons in custody. Police facilities must never be used to hold sentenced youth offenders in custody.
- TPAV recommends that consideration be given to introducing appropriately funded early-intervention policing initiatives to complement current police activities. These would be specifically designed to identify and divert at-risk youth to DHHS support services. Emphasis of police activity on the prevention of youth crime is essential to reduce youth offending.
- Police who currently serve in proactive roles and have youth engagement expertise must be maintained in their dedicated roles to ensure that they can continue to effectively engage with at-risk young people.
- Police prosecutors should be involved in initial Youth Control Order meetings, as proposed within the Youth Justice Reform Bill, to act as representative for the state, and the victim.
- Police involvement in a Youth Control Order should be similar to that of a breach of bail: involvement occurs once a warrant is issued rather than for assessment and compliance purposes. Police members should hold the responsibility for enforcement of breaches. Monitoring youth under control orders is a task for Corrections or appropriately trained DHHS personnel.
While Victoria has experienced its lowest youth crime rate in five years, young people are committing crimes of greater severity than Victoria has experienced before, with known individuals committing more offences. The harm resulting from youth committing these types of serious violent crimes is extreme and must be addressed as a priority.
TPAV is committed to making sure that Victoria’s children and young people receive the best start in life. The Association would like to see the time police currently spend responding to incidents at Malmsbury and Parkville redirected into time spent working with young people in the broader community.
5 The Police Association of Victoria, Submission to the Inquiry into the Youth Justice System in Victoria, (Victoria: The Police Association of Victoria, 2017), p.2.