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SPRINGVALE MONASH LEGAL SERVICE
• Free legal advice for young people
• Criminal, civil and family law
• No referral or appointment required
• Phone 9545 7400 or visit www.smls.org.au for drop in times
The news media over-represents youth crime.
Department of Health, 2004:
“In a recent study Howard Sercombe examined the print media's
portrayal of young people. He found that in approximately 2,500
newspaper articles related to young people, 64 per cent were about
juvenile crime. In articles related to young Aboriginal people, 83 per
cent were about crime (Sercombe, 2001).”
Young people generally commit non-violent offences.
Sentencing Advisory Council, 2012:
“From 2000-2009, transit offences accounted for 34.1% of all principal
proven offences dealt with by the court, followed by property offences
at 32.1%. Offences against the person accounted for 17% of all principal
proven offences. Only a very small proportion of these were offences
involving serious injury to the victim.”
Public perceptions of young people drive tougher
legislative and policing responses.
Youth Affairs Council of Victoria, 2003:
“The association between young people and crime can significantly
influence the way young people are perceived by the wider community
and their ability to access public space. For example, community
consultations in metro Melbourne found that the presence of young
people, especially in groups, made many people feel unsafe in the city.
Research suggests that the presence of young people in public space is
often construed as dangerous and disruptive and as a result there has
been increasing control and surveillance of young people who 'hang out'
in public space.”
The introduction of new graffiti related offences in
2007 increased police attention on young people.
Victoria Police Crime Statistics, 2000-2012:
Year
2000/01
2001/02
2002/03
2003/04
2004/05
2005/06
2006/07
2007/08
2008/09
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12
Damage / Deface by Graffiti
(Existing Offence)
18
14
29
22
14
17
89
37
63
83
131
120
Mark Graffiti Without Consent
(New Offence)
1,460
2,223
3,286
3,213
Research shows that ‘move-on’ laws
disproportionately impact young people.
New South Wales Ombudsman, 1999:
• 16 year olds are 9 times more likely to be moved on than 26 year
olds and 19 times more likely to be moved on than 36 year olds
• 17 year olds accounted for 22% of crime against the person but
54% of directions to move on
• Approximately 50% of directions to move on were issued without
a valid reason
New weapons related offences and search powers
were not supported by an increase in knife crime.
Victoria Police Crime Statistics, 2000-2010:
Year
2000/01
2001/02
2002/03
2003/04
2004/05
2005/06
2006/07
2007/08
2008/09
2009/10
Knives Used / Threatened / Displayed
Robbery
Assault
Aggravated Burglary
1379
1138
922
756
505
620
648
677
752
612
1056
1418
1361
1362
1207
1089
1162
1119
1087
1065
145
102
65
71
47
65
58
54
72
82
The introduction of PSOs at train stations is not an
evidence-based approach.
Victoria Police Crime Statistics, 2012/2013:
• 37.3% of crime happened at residential locations
• 2.4% of crime happened at public transport locations
Youthlaw Community Legal Centre, 2013:
• PSOs are harassing young people including those with an intellectual
disability
• Fines issued by PSOs are being dismissed by the court due to a lack of
evidence
• There has been a concerning increase in
allegations of unfair treatment by PSOs
Policing responses can negatively impact young
people and escalate police/youth conflict.
Smart Justice for Young People, 2013:
• Young people do not draw a distinction between ‘public contact’
and ‘field contact’
• Young African men were 2.4 times more likely to be stopped by
police than non-Africans
• African young people are less likely to receive a reason for being
stopped or searched
The Australian Institute of Criminology argues that
labelling young people as criminals produces a
self-fulfilling prophesy.
Education and support services for young people at
risk would be a better investment than the
introduction and policing of laws that do not result
in crime reduction.
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