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One year of youth crime taskforce

NORTH Queensland Police have today recognised the success of the rapid response team, Taskforce Guardian, dedicated to reducing youth crime in the state.

Almost 1,200 youth offenders have been charged and nearly 500 young people diverted away from the justice system in the first year of the specialist youth crime taskforce.

Queensland Police Service (QPS) launched the flying squad initiative in May 2023, before later becoming known as Taskforce Guardian.

Bringing together specialist police officers with expert youth justice workers deploying to hot spot locations across the state, the Taskforce works alongside local police to arrest serious recidivist offenders, engage with at-risk young people and saturate problem areas to enhance community safety.

Police Minister Mark Ryan said he wanted all Queenslanders to feel protected and that Taskforce Guardian has put extra boots on the ground where frontline police need support.

“The results speak for themselves, with most areas experiencing a decrease in youth offending during and after Taskforce Guardian has been in town,” he said.

“Those resources aren’t just dedicated to enforcement, alongside Youth Justice, Taskforce Guardian is ensuring families and young people are connected to services and programs to help break the cycle of offending.

“I thank the Taskforce for their continued efforts keeping our communities safe.”

Taskforce Guardian has deployed on 71 operations since its inception, with the latest blitz taking to North Queensland with back-to-back deployments in Cairns, Townsville and Mount Isa.

The North Queensland operation took place over 23 days, beginning in Cairns on April 1 and finishing in Mount Isa on May 3.

Each deployment focused on providing individualised support based on the needs of each district, including assisting with investigations, bail compliance, high-visibility patrols and youth and family engagements.

In total, 80 young people were arrested for 237 offences and 47 diverted into alternate restorative pathways across the three deployments.

Minister for Youth Justice Di Farmer said community safety is a real concern for Queenslanders.

“Our priority first and foremost will always be protecting Queenslanders and supporting victims,” she said.

“While our laws put the most serious offenders in detention, we are focussed on tackling the root causes of crime and stopping the pipeline of young people entering the youth justice system.

The State Government is doing all it can to break the cycle of offending, because when a young person comes into the system, we want to make sure we’re doing our very best to stop them returning.”

The borderless nature of Taskforce Guardian allows rapid response teams to deploy at any time, where support is needed most across the state.

Police work alongside expert Youth Justice workers to foster a positive rapport with people, connecting them with key support services, local resources, and relevant change-oriented programs focusing on health, education, disability services and First Nations initiatives.

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: Concerns over social media’s impacts and Cairns dance teacher recognised on national stage.

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