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3 June, 2021

New co-responder team helping to tackle youth crime in Mackay

Co-responder teams of police and youth justice workers have engaged with nearly 170 young people since they began patrolling the streets of Mackay this year to reduce youth crime and improve community safety.

Minister for Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs, Leanne Linard, said the $5.2 million co-responder initiative was expanded to Mackay in mid-March, after being introduced in five other locations around the state last year.

“Co-responder teams have had some great successes in Cairns, Townsville, Moreton, Rockhampton and Logan, and I’m pleased to see the program is now kicking goals in Mackay too,” Ms Linard said.

“The teams are working hard to stop crime before it occurs, while reducing anti-social behaviour in public places and diverting young people to support services. In Mackay, the co-responders are focusing on the peak period of Wednesday to Saturday, patrolling the CBD and other parts of the city.”

Police Minister Mark Ryan said the Mackay Co-responder team represented the fulfillment of a Palaszczuk Government election commitment.

“This is about using all of the resources at the government’s disposal to make a real difference to community safety and also to make a difference in the lives of troubled youths,” he said.

“The Co-responder teams monitor and approach vulnerable young people in public places who may need help on a whole range of issues, including homelessness, domestic violence and substance misuse.

“The next step they take is to connect young people and their families to vital support services, and importantly they’re checking up on young offenders to ensure they’re complying with their bail conditions.”

Mackay District Officer Acting Superintendent Tom Armitt said the program has had beneficial flow-on effects.

“Our co-responder teams engage with young people outside the traditional police enforcement model, such as developing support and determining needs for young people to help divert them from criminal activity through new relationships and referral pathways,” he said.

“Our teams are engaging with young people in a positive way who may have otherwise had a negative view of the roles we play in society.”

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said positive results were also being seen in Mackay following the government’s statewide investment of more than half a billion dollars in early intervention programs and new detention centre beds, in addition to more police on the ground.

The latest data shows in the 12 months to December 30, 2020, the number of 10 to 17-year-olds in Mackay with at least one charged offence dropped by nearly five per cent compared to the preceding 12 months.

“Many of our programs in Mackay, including restorative justice conferencing, behaviour intervention programs and bail support services, are getting young offenders back on track.But we also know that in Mackay 10 per cent of young offenders commit 44 per cent of youth crime, which is why a new co-responder team was formed to boost our efforts,” she said.

Since the initiative commenced in other regions in May 2020, co-responder teams have been in contact with young people around 11,200 times as at May 15, 2021.

The co-responder initiative, which was also recently expanded to Brisbane North and the Gold Coast, forms a key part of the government’s efforts to reduce youth crime, which were bolstered this year with the introduction of tough new measures for young repeat offenders.

Legislative changes included the creation of a presumption against bail for youth offenders arrested for committing further serious indictable offences while on bail.

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