Crisis prevention hope: Police plan to curb teen crime rates

There are fewer young criminals, but they are more violent, statistics show.

By GEORGIA KNIGHT

A youth crime prevention program is an initiative set to be developed by police in the City of Casey in attempts to minimise youth violence. 

Cranbourne Police Station Constable Aaron Trinder said although statistics showed a decrease in crime rates, the severity and seriousness of offences had risen.

“Kids aren’t stealing newspapers from lawns anymore,” Constable Trinder said. “They are violent criminals who are prepared at length to attack people in the community.

The station’s youth resources team wanted to act to “change kids’ perceptions while they’re young”, he said

“It’s important to get in early to target disengaged youth so we are currently in the process of developing a crisis prevention team,” he said. 

“As police we have a duty to get in early and find out why they are doing it. They don’t need media coverage, they need help.”

Research conducted by the Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) revealed offenders aged under 24 were responsible for 52 per cent of all criminal incidents in 2007-08, which dropped to 40 per cent in 2015-2016. 

 

“We live in such a high-density area in the City of Casey,” Constable Trinder said. “You can’t put young families in the area where there are already high rates of crime and expect it not to increase. Kids learn from each other.”

While “peer pressure” was an issue, he also pointed to mental health as a major problem. “They get no help for it so they lash out. It’s a vicious cycle,” he said.

“Also, video games like Grand Theft Auto 5 is teaching kids how to carjack, which we have to think is a contributor to the increased number of car thefts. 

“Unfortunately, some parents aren’t looking out for where their teenagers are and monitoring what they are doing.” 

Cranbourne East was one of the 10 fastest growing suburbs in Australia from 2006 to 2016, increasing by 22,600 people, ABS statistics show. 

Susan Forbes*, who was victim of a robbery at a Cranbourne North Coles in September, said she did not believe anyone could help violent youths.

“Some of the teens were as young as 12 and they were reckless,” Ms Forbes said. “It’s beyond the point of getting help for them, there’s nothing that can be done when violent groups are imitating each other.”

Grand Theft Auto is a bad example for young people, police fear.

According to the City of Casey website, the council receives funding from the State Government to provide drug, alcohol and smoke free music and cultural events for people aged 12-25 years, aiming to engage society’s youth and deter them from violence.

Ms Forbes, who was working at Coles when it was violently ransacked, said police initiatives and council run programs were a waste of time as young people did not want to be seen participating in events that are promoted as “drug and alcohol free”.

“It’s not ‘cool’ to attend these events,” she said. “And even if teenagers did attend them, that’s not to say they won’t go out the next night and rob a supermarket.”

Ms Forbes said it should not be the perpetrators whoweare receiving help but the victims who were traumatised by the actions of teenagers.

“I don’t care how they are helped,” she said. “The one place where we thought we were safe was turned into a crime scene. Young families are too scared to step foot back in the store, and so am I.”

*The person chose to remain anonymous