Pressure builds over 'frustrating' youth crime crisis

By Callum Godde and Holly Hales
Updated July 10 2024 - 1:25pm, first published 1:20pm
Six teens were inside a stolen Jeep that crashed and killed a 28-year-old man. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS)
Six teens were inside a stolen Jeep that crashed and killed a 28-year-old man. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS)

The public outcry over bail granted to a teen accused of killing another driver in a high-speed crash has increased scrutiny on efforts to tackle rampant youth crime.

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes and Police Minister Anthony Carbines are meeting on Wednesday with Victoria Police, legal experts and youth justice workers to address the issue.

A 17-year-old boy was released on bail despite being charged over a crash at Burwood in Melbourne's east on July 2 that killed 28-year-old trainee doctor William Taylor.

Six teens were allegedly inside a stolen Jeep when it T-boned Mr Taylor's hatchback, with two 15-year-old girls chased down by members of the public and three other males still on the run.

The private school boy's bail was revoked on Wednesday after his mother notified police that he had failed to attend his first appointment with Youth Justice on Monday and had not been home since Sunday afternoon.

Road Policing Assistant Commissioner Glenn Weir said it was "frustrating" the teen had violated his bail conditions.

"Unfortunately we're really concerned with some of the allegations against him that are putting others at risk," he said.

"It's incredibly frustrating that we've had to divert a lot of resources away from other community safety activities to deal with that."

Mr Weir said young peoples' behaviour had deteriorated after the pandemic, with the latest crime statistics revealing the number of offenders in the 15 to 17 age cohort in the 12 months to March spiked by almost 25 per cent to 15,495.

"There's a number of contributing factors and we look to address those factors, we look to prevent things happening, we respond and react and enforce where we have to," he said.

Ms Symes said a cohort of repeat offenders were causing a lot of the damage and the government understood community concerns about youth crime, particularly in regards to aggravated burglaries.

"We haven't been sitting on our hands," she told reporters.

"We have been developing legislation that is targeted to responding to all levels of youth crime."

Under a standalone youth justice bill introduced to parliament in June, up to 50 repeat teenage offenders on bail will be forced to wear ankle monitoring bracelets.

Ms Symes said the two-year trial could be rolled out quicker and expanded beyond 50 offenders if required.

"Nothing's off the table," she said.

Opposition youth justice spokesman Brad Battin has blamed the crisis on the government and its "broken" bail laws.

"The Allan Labor government is out of ideas to fix the youth justice crisis," he said.

Australian Associated Press