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Is Vigilantism the Answer to Youth Crime?

Community anti-crime groups are going door to door to target suspected thieves in the Queensland city of Rockhampton, prompted by a rise in rates of youth crime.

The Queensland Premier and Police Commissioner have slammed locals for their vigilantism, saying it’s not the answer to community crime.

In recent days, community leaders in Rockhampton have met with Indigenous leaders and leaders of the vigilante group to discuss the issue.

Click the link below to hear more about youth crime and vigilantism in Queensland

Associate Professor in criminal justice and criminology Dr Terry Goldsworthy explained the hidden dangers of citizens’ arrest, a power conferred under Queensland’s criminal code that allows people to arrest someone who they think has committed an offence.

“You do expose yourself by making a citizens’ arrest to using too much force. We’ve had cases where people have been charged with manslaughter because the person they were restraining has passed away,”

Dr Goldsworthy said.

Goldsworthy said that while community engagement is important for solving and preventing crime, it drains police resources when they patrol in large groups and attend suspects’ houses.

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The Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll has been criticised for not attending Rockhampton or dealing with offenders.

“It’s reached that level of problematic interaction with the community that the Chief Executive of the Service needs to go up there and sit down in a community hall with them,”

Goldsworthy said.

Referred to as ‘serious repeat offenders’, the cohort has grown to about 70 per cent of youth offenders according to The Queensland Government’s 2021 Youth Justice Reforms Review.

The review by Bob Atkinson also showed that the proportion of young people offending on bail increased from 47 per cent in 2019 to 53 per cent in 2021.

“I think that’s why you see a lot of frustration in the community, … There was a 12 per cent increase in the property crime rate and a staggering 45 per cent increase in personal crime and I don’t think I’ve ever seen an increase that big”,

Goldsworthy said.

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