'Crime wave' blamed on youth

April 21, 1999

Crime wave' blamed on youth

By Ruth Ratcliffe

BRISBANE — According to the Queensland Victims of Crime Association, Ipswich is in the grip of a juvenile "crime wave" being waged by a small group of notorious child criminals. This claim follows the bashing and murder of 62-year-old Hoera Te Kooti. Before any arrests were made in relation to the crime, the local media had tried and found guilty a group of local Murri youths.

One Nation senator-elect Heather Hill has called on the Ipswich mayor, John Nugent, to facilitate the extension of police powers. Nugent has agreed to look at the proposal and also has plans to extend the city's security camera system.

Nugent was quoted in the Brisbane Courier-Mail: "A deficiency in state laws means we can't remove [young people] until they've done something wrong". The doctrine of innocent until proven guilty has clearly been discarded in this beat-up.

Merle Tilbrook, a Murri elder, has pointed out that both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal youth in the region suffer from a lack of access to recreation and sport facilities, and that youth problems in the region are not restricted to Murri youth.

Resistance member Andy Gianniotis said the "crime wave" scare in Ipswich was scapegoating young people, especially youth from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"There are solutions to these problems", Gianniotis explained, "but it is not rounding people up and pushing them off the streets because they might do something wrong. Young people need community facilities and access to public space without being criminalised."

The Queensland Police Union has made the extraordinary claim that juvenile gangs are running wild in Ipswich because police officers are afraid of losing their jobs if they enforce the law.

Four Ipswich police officers are facing a hearing about official misconduct following a Criminal Justice Commission investigation. The investigation was sparked when Ipswich police were caught on the city's security camera system using excessive force in the arrest of several Murri people.

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