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Bourke crime wave — Make the parents and carers responsible — Butler says

Member for Barwon, Roy Butler. Photo TWH

Parents and caregivers of young offenders should face community service work for offences committed by youngsters in their care, according to Member for Barwon, Roy Butler.

And there needs to be more accountability for government money spent on programs targeting youth crime in rural areas, Mr Butler told 2WEB.

As the Bourke community struggles with rising rates of vehicle and other property damage and theft, the arrests of two ten-year-old children for a series of offences have again raised concerns about how police and courts deal with young offenders.

The bailing of young offenders back to Bourke after being charged with thefts from vehicles, break and enter offences and vandalism, highlighted the lack of appropriate sentencing options for magistrates.

Speaking on 2WEB, Mr Butler said he was acutely aware of the rising anxiety in Bourke because of the crime rate but said handing down custodial sentences for young offenders who committed minor crimes was not the answer.

Rather, he argued that the evidence showed introducing young people to the criminal justice system resulted in them becoming repeat offenders as they grew older.

“I worked in prisons and then in probation and parole and I was there when a system was introduced which was designed to reduce the risk of repeat offences,” Mr Butler said.

“The evidence says people committing minor offences, if introduced to a custodial sentence, are more at risk of re-offending.

“Serious offenders must have a custodial sentence, but I have been talking with Maranguka and the Attorney General’s office to find a circuit breaker for people who have committed minor offences.

“At the moment there are only two choices - the offender either walks free from court or is given a custodial sentence, there is nothing in between.

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