In recent months, there has been growing attention on youth crime in Australia, leading to increased pressure on politicians to address the issue. However, it is important to analyze the data and define the extent of the problem before concluding whether there is a crisis or not.
In Queensland, a group called Voice for Victims has been advocating for a stronger law and order response and increased assistance payments to victims. They recently met with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to push for their demands.
When examining crime statistics, it is evident that the rate of incidents involving youth offenders in Victoria has been trending downward from 2014 to 2023. However, there was a 24% increase in the rate of incidents committed by youth offenders under the age of 17 from 2021-22 to 2022-23.
Similarly, data from New South Wales shows a downward trend in the rate of young people being proceeded against by police from 2011 to 2022. However, there was a 7% increase in the rate of young people being proceeded against by police and an 11% increase in serious offenses proceeding to court from 2021 to 2022.
The 2021-22 Queensland Crime Report revealed a 13.7% increase in the number of children aged ten to 17 being proceeded against by police compared to the previous year. This marked the highest number of youth offenders in ten years, reaching a total of 52,742.
While most states and territories in Australia have seen a downward trend in youth offending rates over the past decade, the Northern Territory experienced a 13% increase. It is important to note that the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ youth offender rate only counts unique offenders, not providing an indication of overall recidivism rates.
In Queensland, nearly half of all youth offenses in 2021-22 were committed by serious repeat offenders. The most prevalent offenses for young people in Queensland included theft, break and enter, and stolen vehicles.
In New South Wales, the most common offenses for young people in 2022 were theft, break and enter, and stalking or harassment. Compared to 2021, there was a significant increase in young people being proceeded against by police for thefts and break and enters.
In Victoria, the most common incidents for youth offenders in 2022-23 were crimes against the person, property offenses, and public offenses. There were notable increases in these categories compared to the previous year.
Perceptions of safety play a significant role in creating a sense of crisis. The Commonwealth Report on Government Services revealed that while 89% of people felt safe at home at night in 2021-22, only 32.7% felt safe on public transport and 53.8% felt safe on the street.