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Media Release: ‘Community safety plan’ not the answer to youth crime or improving community safety

Justice Reform Initiative Media Release, 1 May 2024

The $1.28 billion ‘Community Safety Plan’ announced by the Miles Government on Tuesday will not make the Queensland community any safer. By focusing on expanding policing and building new prisons for children, the plan instead doubles down on the short-sighted and politicised justice policy approach that has unfortunately been adopted by both sides of politics in Queensland.

The Justice Reform Initiative’s Executive Director Dr Mindy Sotiri said Queensland leaders needed to genuinely engage with the evidence about what works to keep communities safe, and what works to reduce cycles of reoffending.  

“The plan released by the Queensland Government fails to engage with the evidence about what actually works to build community safety in the long term. We know that we cannot incarcerate or police our way to a safer community,” Dr Sotiri said.

“The focus of the Queensland Government on building new prisons, increasing police, and expanding the scope of measures like electronic monitoring are short term policies that have absolutely no evidence base when it comes to improving community safety. The evidence in fact shows us that increasing the numbers of people in contact with the justice system, will also increase the numbers of people who become entrenched in a cycle of incarceration and reoffending.”

“In order to address crime, we need to address the drivers of crime and the drivers of incarceration.  The plan released by the Queensland Government prioritises prisons and policing over evidence-based supports and services. It prioritises politicised policy making ahead of evidence-based community safety.” 

“The current approach of both sides of politics in Queensland already funnels far too many children into detention centres and adult watchhouses. Instead of pumping more funds into police and detention centres, Queensland’s politicians need to invest meaningfully in evidence-based interventions that actually will make a difference. There are plenty of evidence-based community-led approaches that actually tackle the causes of crime. The Community Safety Plan is another expensive step in the wrong direction.”  

Locking up children is already costing Queensland taxpayers over $218 million per year, while a new 80-bed youth detention centre to cater for the overflow will cost more than $600 million in building costs alone.

“This punitive approach is failing Queenslanders on every front – creating a backlog in the court system, dangerous overcrowding in detention centres and an overflow into adult watchhouses that continues to violate the basic human rights, safety and wellbeing of children as young as 10,” Dr Sotiri said.

“These legislative settings are undermining both government and community priorities to prevent crime and keep the community safe. All the evidence tells us the earlier children have interaction with the criminal justice system, the more likely they are to be cycling in and out of it for years to come. That’s a bad result for children, for taxpayers and for community safety.

“The community is counting on its leaders to navigate the evidence and not letting political point scoring get in the way of what’s best for all Queenslanders.

“We join the community sector in urging politicians on all sides to put the politics aside and commit to following the evidence about what works to genuinely build safer Queensland communities for everyone.”

For more information and a list of patrons of the Justice Reform Initiative visit

Media contact:  Amy Price 0437 027 156


The Initiative respectfully acknowledges and supports the current and longstanding efforts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to reduce the numbers of Indigenous people incarcerated in Australia and, importantly, the leadership role which Indigenous-led organisations continue to play on this issue. We also acknowledge the work of many other individuals and organisations seeking change, such as those focused on the rate of imprisonment for women, people with mental health issues, people with disability and others.

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