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Mar 172014

Big issues in state politics were discussed at a Law and Order Forum on Thursday night at the Carindale PCYC. Taryn Watt reports.

The Chatsworth Law and Order Forum was hosted by the Member for Chatsworth, Steve Minnikin MP with guests Jarrod Bleijie MP, Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Jack Dempsey MP, Queensland Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services.

The State’s Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie was first to take the floor and spoke to over 60 attendees of his plan to “rebalance the scales of justice for the victim” and to make Queensland “the safest place to raise a child”.

He spoke of the tough new “two strike policy” that mandates life imprisonment and a minimum non-parole period of 20 years for repeat child sex offenders and increased penalties for other child sex crimes.

Mr Bleijie also explained how he is “taking a hard line on youth offenders” and stated that “if the punishment fits the crime” detention should no longer be considered a last resort for children.

The Attorney-General also informed the audience that he would be working towards allowing juvenile criminal histories to become admissible in court when being sentenced as an adult, expanding naming and shaming laws and making breach of bail an offence for children.

Labor Candidate for Chatsworth Paul Keene who attended the forum, said afterwards, that jail should always be considered a last resort where possible, but even more so for children.

“Children need support, rehabilitation and education, not jail at the first instance,” Mr Keene said.

“By removing detention as a last resort, we risk a generation of young people being treated as criminals, especially those from indigenous communities.”

Early intervention and rehabilitation were on the agenda for Mr Bleijie. He spoke of the youth boot camps he has running around the state in an attempt to educate and rehabilitate young offenders.

The controversial new bikie laws were the next hot topic of the evening with the Attorney-General attempting to reassure the community that for these laws to be applicable the defendant must be proven to be a ‘vicious lawless associate’ who committed a crime for the benefit of their association not merely a recreational motorcycle rider.

However this topic was still met with some confusion and criticism at question time.  Audience member Simon from Carina told the group that “laws used to be against actions, now they’re against people”.

Police Minister Jack Dempsey was next to address the audience and focused on plans to increase the technology available to our emergency services. Mr Dempsey stated that “technology is where we are going in a very feverous way” and is planning to equip all police officers with iPads for easier access to information.

Mr Dempsey hopes that by giving police officers iPads it will reduce the amount of time they spend back at the station on paperwork and therefore can spend more time on patrols.

The minister also mentioned the new SES app which allows people in an emergency to send in pictures and details of their predicament rather than calling a phone number. Mr Dempsey says this is a quicker and more efficient manner of handling calls for help and the ability to send through a picture gives the SES a level of information not previously available as “a picture can tell a thousand words”.

The Police Minister praised the “givers in the community” and stated that the “police can only be as good as the information from the community” in reference to the five neighbourhood watch programs in the area and to Crime Stoppers. The Minister has pledged 1 million dollars to Crime Stoppers over the next four years.

The final speaker for the evening was impromptu guest, Chief Superintendent Allan McCarthy – District Officer for the South Brisbane. He informed the audience of the success in crime reduction in the local area.

Superintendent McCarthy said there have been over 1000 less homes and businesses and 250 less vehicles broken into in the greater South Brisbane district from the same time in the last financial year. There have also been 200 less houses and 50 less cars in the local Carindale, Carina, Capalaba, Mt Gravatt area for the same period.

Mr Dempsey had also earlier mentioned that there has been an additional five police officers added to the Chatsworth area and there has been a 14 per cent decrease in offences against property in the last 12 months. There has however been an 11 per cent increase in drug and vagrancy offences.

Labor’s Paul Keene says that the statistics presented included certain crime classes going down, but some also rising.

“It was interesting to note that there was no discussion of domestic violence and the protection of women, especially considering the recent case affecting the Chatsworth area involving the attempted murder of a woman and two children by a family member,” Mr Keene said.

Superintendent McCarthy ended on the note that traffic enforcement was a high priority for police in the area and that there will be an increased presence because “one accident is too many, especially where someone is injured”.

Taryn Watt is a Journalism Student at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane writing for Carindale Connect.
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