The Territory Labor Government is bringing in a significant suite of new measures to cut crime, keep the community safe and put victims first.
The measures will include tougher than ever consequences for breach of bail – this means if a young person commits a serious breach while on bail, their bail will be automatically revoked and they will be taken into custody.
Police will also be given more powers to tackle youth crime through expanded options to apply Electronic Monitoring.
The package will include legislative and non-legislative measures to reduce youth crime through targeting repeat offenders in the Northern Territory.
There are practical consequences to these policies and that is why the Government will also be allocating $5 million for additional new youth remand infrastructure. This will allow for an increase of young offenders on remand.
The new measures will be developed immediately and ready for Parliament in May sittings. They are:
1) Automatic revocation of bail
Bail is a privilege not a right.
If a young person commits a serious breach of bail – their bail will be revoked and they will be taken into remand. A serious breach of bail will include re-offending while on bail, breaching certain electronic monitoring conditions and curfew, failure to attend court, and failing to complete youth diversion.
2) Expanding the list of prescribed offences
The Bail Act will be amended to expand the list of ‘prescribed offences’. This means there is NO presumption of bail given to offences such as unlawful entry, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, assault of a worker, assault of police and other serious offences.
3) Expansion of Electronic Monitoring (EM) by police
Police will now have more circumstances where they will be able to immediately place a monitoring device on a young person who is alleged to have committed a crime. For example, this means police will immediately be able to place a monitoring device on a young person who has committed a crime. Police will also be able to consider whether electronic monitoring is appropriate for use during police diversion.
4) Ability to Record Breach of Bail Antecedents
Judges will now know if and how many times a youth has breached bail to make the best sentencing decisions. It will serve exactly the same purpose as the old breach of bail policy, but significantly lessen the amount of paperwork for police.
5) Toughen the Traffic Act 1987 to hold young people accountable
This will enable young people behind the wheel of a car to be breath tested the same as adults. Recognising the importance of time when doing a breath test, amendments will be made to the Youth Justice Act to allow police (after making reasonable attempts to have a responsible adult be present) to carry out a test. (For August Sittings)
6) Amend Section 64 of the Youth Justice Act
Youth must face consequence - if a young offender fails to complete their diversion, they will have to go back before the courts and have their case reconsidered.
The amendment will also remove the issue of having courts referring young people back to Police for consideration for diversion. It will mean courts can only refer youth under this section where the youth have not previously been considered for diversion.
The Territory Labor Government is also tackling the root causes of crime across the Territory – including poor housing and alcohol abuse.
We are building more houses than ever in remote communities, and our alcohol reforms aimed at cutting alcohol related crime and antisocial behaviour and harm across the Northern Territory are working.
Other Territory Labor Government initiatives to tackle crime since 2016 include:
- Clear and Immediate Consequences for Repeat Offenders: including the establishment of a community work program that will see offenders cleaning graffiti and clearing weeds and landscaping.
- Targeting Ringleaders: we are introducing legislation this week that targets adults who recruit youth to commit offences – punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
- Family Responsibility and Accountability: returning Family Responsibility Agreements and Orders– allowing agreements to be made and courts to order families of troubled youths to participate in family group conferencing and counselling, education or training, housing management and financial counselling or on-country programs.
- Strengthening the Voice of Victims: victim/offender conferencing expanded to all regions, increased funding for financial relief of victims (such as resecuring premises and vehicles, clean-up, and security assessments).
- Expansion of the Back on Track Program: increasing boot camps and on country work camps across the Territory, behavioural programs and increased training and education for at-risk youths.
- Community Safety: retainment of police levels through regular recruitment programs, expansion of the School Based Policing Program, increase CCTV with a focus on suburban locations, increase CCTV monitoring.
- Penalties for Property Crime: we are reviewing of penalties for all property offences including unlawful entries, unlawful use of motor vehicles
- Supporting Our Police: we have put more police on the beat than ever before, and given them the best resources possible, including a record budget, more CCTV, and built new police stations.
Quotes from Chief Minister Michael Gunner:
“Your safety comes first - no quick fixes, no silver bullets just hard constant grind to break the cycle of crime and keep you safe.
“Today we announce a suite of measure measures to keep you safe and hold offenders to greater account – from automatically revoking bail for youth who seriously breach, to more powers for police to use electronic monitoring.
“Less bail, more consequences for offenders and more visibility of youth on bail makes the work of police easier and the community safer.”