On 21 February 2023, a new bill was presented in Parliament titled the Strengthening Community Safety Bill 2023 (‘the bill’).
One of the changes proposed by the bill is to reintroduce the charge of breach of bail condition for juvenile offenders.
Pursuant to section 29(1) of the Bail Act 1980 (Qld) it is an offence for a defendant to breach a condition of a bail undertaking. Subsection 29(1) of the legislation does not currently apply to a defendant who is a child. The proposed amendment removes reference to the charge of breach of bail condition not applying to juvenile offenders.
The bill proposes to insert an additional subsection:
Section 29(3) For the purposes of the Human Rights Act 2019, section 43(1), it is declared that this section has effect in relation to a defendant who is a child—
(a) despite being incompatible with human rights; and
(b) despite anything else in the Human Rights Act 2019.
Note— Under the Human Rights Act 2019, section 45(2), this subsection expires 5 years after the commencement.
The bill also proposes to amend section 59A of the Youth Justice Act 1992 (Qld) to insert a clause that police officers are not required to consider alternatives to arrest for breaching a bail condition, if the grant of bail relates to a prescribed indictable offence or contravening a domestic violence order or police protection notice.
Some of the other proposed changes relate to extending the maximum period of a conditional release order from 3 months to 6 months, amendments to the Youth Justice Act 1992 (Qld) to include a declaration of serious repeat offenders, requiring aggravated offences of unlawful use of a motor vehicle to be dealt with by a District Court Judge and expansion of the number of offences with a presumption against bail.
A defendant child has not been liable to be prosecuted for an offence of breach of bail since the introduction of the Bail Act and Other Acts Amendment Act 1988 (Qld) specifically, section 21. The introduction of the provision excluding a defendant child from breach of bail commenced on 14 December 1988.
The bill was only recently introduced in Queensland Parliament and is still subject to consideration. The Bill has been referred to the Economics and Governance Committee for report.
Youth Crime is currently a topical issue in the media. Many key stakeholders have differing views surrounding whether the imposition of breach of bail and other proposed changes will have the desired effect on young defendants in the justice system.
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