CAUGHT OUT: Warwick’s biggest youth crime concern
BREAK-INS, theft, and reckless driving – Warwick has no shortage of youth crime, but police officers say the offences themselves are far from the biggest concern.
While the town’s juvenile crime rates have remained relatively steady, the increasing number of repeat offenders is becoming a significant issue for Warwick authorities.
According to Warwick Police officer-in-charge Jamie Deacon, the most common demographic is 13- to 14-year-olds, committing anything from vandalism to more serious property theft.
“In terms of the more concerning incidents, which is theft of property and breaking into cars and houses, a small number of repeat offenders are responsible for that,” Snr Sgt Deacon said.
“Boredom plays a part, but also ease of targets and opportunistic offending – if they’re walking around and they find free and easy opportunities in unlocked houses or vehicles, they’re going to take it.
“The other thing that needs to be raised is a lack of parental control. Police can only do so much, we can’t be everywhere or follow these kids all the time, so parents need to take some responsibility.”
Snr Sgt Deacon said police will maintain their hard stance against repeat youth offenders, and “boredom” would never be tolerated as an excuse.
“These kids are capable of making choices and they make them every day, and their choice in terms of criminal reoffending is no different,” he said.
“When we find children doing the wrong thing, we charge them and put them before the court, so we are reliant on the justice system to balance the needs of the child with the needs of the community.”
Warwick police prosecutor Ken Wiggan was equally concerned by repeat offenders’ impact on the community, and said increased penalties could help break the cycle of criminality.
“A lot of the kids, especially those who are 13 or 14 and coming before the courts regularly, they’re released on bail and reoffend again within a short period of time,” Sgt Wiggan said.
“There’s some kids who have never reoffended, but here we seem to have a bunch coming through time and time again and continuing into adulthood.
“The community is sick to death of kids committing crimes, and there’s no deterrent penalty for them. You can’t save the world, but we’ll keep doing the best we can.”