A crack police 24/7 strike team, spruiked by the State Government to target hard knock youth offenders, has sensationally fizzled to just 3-4 shifts per week.
A crack police 24/7 strike team, spruiked by the State Government to target hard knock youth offenders, has sensationally fizzled to just 3-4 shifts per week.

Youth crime strike force slammed as fail

A crack "police 24/7 strike team" spruiked by the State Government to target hard knock youth offenders has sensationally fizzled.

The Townsville Bulletin can reveal the "strike team" is in fact 3-4 added shifts per week.

Police Minister Mark Ryan made the promise in March as part of the Labor Government's five-point plan to tackle youth crime at Townsville.

The strike teams, which officially rolled out this week, consist of a youth justice worker and police officer working together on patrols in unmarked police cars.

Mr Ryan promised the teams would be "24/7", but the handful of additional shifts has frustrated Opposition Minister for Northern Queensland Dale Last.

"The community has been hurt for so long around this issue and for the government not to get this right … is just not good enough," he said.

"The task force has the potential to be a huge help in this community, and the fact that it's now being watered down to this extent puts a question mark around that."

The State Government announced the $10 million five-point plan to tackle the crime scourge after an unprecedented joint campaign by the Townsville Bulletin and Cairns Post pushed for change.

Acting Inspector Steve Batterham and Youth Justice's Andrew Morris will form part of the strike team that rolled out this week.
Acting Inspector Steve Batterham and Youth Justice's Andrew Morris will form part of the strike team that rolled out this week.

The plan included more funding to community-based crime action committees, culture-based on country programs and tougher action on bail.

Minister for Youth Di Farmer said the government had listened to feedback from local communities and all aspects of the five-point plan were expected to be up and running in July.

"These new measures are aimed at hard-core offenders and leave no doubt that the safety of the community always comes first," she said.

The Bulletin understands the patrols will run a few days per week for both on-call and patrolling workers.

Townsville District Chief Superintendent Craig Hanlon said the roster would be monitored and assessed where necessary.

Chief Superintendent Craig Hanlon was willing to see how the strike team would unfold, despite it being only an additional 3-4 shifts per week. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
Chief Superintendent Craig Hanlon was willing to see how the strike team would unfold, despite it being only an additional 3-4 shifts per week. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

LNP candidate for Townsville John Hathaway said the community would be disappointed with the "simple window dressing".

"Until they see something serious, the people have lost faith in this government," he said.

The strike teams would visit offenders on bail and the areas where young offenders gathered to stop offending early.

Chief Supt Hanlon said he hoped the new initiative was a success.

"Just because the journey is difficult doesn't mean that it's not worth the journey," he said.

"The aim for us is to work together as a collective group … this is another way to try and do that."

Chief Supt Hanlon said he acknowledged the support of youth justice working with police after hours.

Originally published as Youth crime strike force slammed as fail


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