Sweeping Reforms To Crack Down On Youth Crime

There will be longer detention periods, more intensive control programs, and a new offence targeting adults who use kids to commit crime under sweeping reforms to the youth justice system being undertaken by the Andrews Labor Government.

Measures announced today by Premier Daniel Andrews, Attorney-General Martin Pakula, Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos and Minister for Police Lisa Neville respond to recommendations from the Victoria Police Youth Summit and requests from Victoria Police for greater monitoring and control over young offenders.

The reforms will:

  • Increase the maximum period of detention that can be imposed by the Children’s Court on young offenders from three years to four years
  • Create a new offence for adults who lure young people to commit crimes for them. The offence of ‘procuring young people to commit offences’ will carry a maximum penalty of ten years in prison, regardless of the crime committed by the youth
  • Establish a new Youth Control Order (YCO) to give the Children’s Court the power to issue a more intensive and targeted supervision sentence for young offenders. YCOs can restrict where a young person can visit and who they can associate with, can include curfews, and require the young person to comply with an education, training or employment plan. Non-compliance will result in the court being able to place the young offender in custody
  • Set up an Intensive Monitoring and Control Bail Supervision Scheme based on a successful model from the UK, which will mean young people have to report more regularly to DHHS and Victoria Police and comply with education, training or work requirements. If they fail to meet these requirements, they risk having their bail revoked
  • Hold young people more accountable for their actions while in detention, by ensuring the Youth Parole Board is told about any critical incidents involving youths in detention, such as assaults or rioting, which may be taken into account when considering their eligibility for parole
  • Require the Youth Parole Board to notify Victoria Police when specific youth offenders, such as violent and repeat offenders, are released on parole
  • Extend the existing Youth Justice Bail Supervision scheme across the entire state. The scheme has been proven to prevent people from re-offending and is supported by Victoria Police
  • Expand the Central After Hours Assessment and Bail Placement Service to ensure staff are on hand around the clock to assist Victoria Police and Bail Justices make the best decisions about how to deal with an offender who has been arrested out of hours

The Government will also take action to give clearer guidance to the Children’s Court when dealing with young offenders, including:

  • Requiring Magistrates in the Children’s Court to give particular consideration to community safety when sentencing young people who have committed serious violent crimes and have previous convictions for similar offences
  • Introducing laws to clarify the criteria which allows Children’s Court matters to be heard in the Supreme or County Courts. This will provide greater guidance about when serious cases should be elevated to a higher court
  • Ensuring that where possible, the same magistrate oversees all proceedings relating to a young offender, meaning consistency of approach and more effective monitoring of repeat offenders

These changes follow a record boost to Victoria Police announced by the Labor Government, which will see 2,729 new police recruited to fight crime over the next four years.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“These comprehensive reforms will hold young offenders to account and help keep Victorians safe.”

“We are also giving Victoria Police the resources they need to crackdown on youth crime, with the Government making the single largest investment in police numbers in the history of our force.”

Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Martin Pakula

“The community rightly expects young offenders to be punished for their crimes. This package will help to ensure they are being dealt with properly.”

“We’re also sending a strong message to criminal bigwigs who lure children to commit crimes for them – your actions won’t be tolerated and you face jail of up to 10 years.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“We are making it clear to young offenders out on bail that we are watching them and we will not tolerate any behaviour that puts the Victorian community at risk.”

“These reforms provide structure and close support and the opportunity for young people to turn their lives around.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Police Lisa Neville

“We know we have issues with a small but dangerous group of young offenders causing great harm in our community, and existing interventions aren’t working – that’s why we need these reforms to turn this behaviour around.”