Is name and shame the answer?
A PROPOSAL to “name and shame” juvenile criminals has been met with mixed reaction in the North West. Queensland’s Attorney General is calling on State Government to implement a “name and shame” policy for young offenders.
While the idea was supported by some Mount Isa victims of crime, others were not convinced it would be appropriate or effective.
Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie told Queensland media he would strengthen laws to publicly identify children in “not just serious matters but the minor matters as well”.
Mr Bleijie said kids should take responsibility for their actions.
Under current laws, children in court cannot be identified unless a judge decides their crimes should be made public.
“In circumstances where it is paramount or in the public interest for the child to maintain their anonymity, then they (judges) should do that,” Mr Bleijie said.
“But young kids should be named.”
He said he hoped to put a submission forward to government towards the end of the year.
Mount Isa BMX club president Tony Midgley said something needed to happen to reduce youth crime.
After the BMX premises were vandalised by young juveniles last October, a youth justice forum was set up over the incident.
“Some of these kids didn’t even turn up and the ones that did just sat there without talking.
“There was no remorse, no nothing.”
“There needs to be some accountability.”
BMX club members had spent a lot of time, money and effort restoring the clubhouse and grounds since October last year, he said.
“We’re still just getting back to where we were before the vandalism.”
Anything the Attorney General could do to bring some accountability to young offenders would be welcome, Mr Midgley said.
“Shame only works if the people have a set of standards that will make them feel shame.
“Something has to change.”
Mount Isa Bowls Club manager Colleen Murphy, whose premises was broken into in April, said naming and shaming was a good idea.
Scott Ramsbotham, 18, was sentenced to a six-month probation order in Mount Isa Magistrates Court on Monday.
The court heard Ramsbotham smashed the glass sliding door at the entrance to the club and stole four cans of Bundaberg and Cola out of the fridge.
Ms Murphy said this was the first time the club had been broken into in 16 months.
“It’s not as frequent as it used to be. Before I came here it happened quite regularly,” she said.
“It affects our stock sales and we had to pay for the replacement of the door, and if affects our insurance claim bonuses as well.”
Mount Isa resident Kelly Barnes, whose home was broken into in February, said naming and shaming “wasn’t the way to go”.
“I wouldn’t encourage it.
“I think people make mistakes and, regardless of what they’ve done, I think everyone has a right to keep their confidentiality.”
Ms Barnes said deterrence wasn’t “just about punishment”.
“It’s a much bigger picture and there’s a definite need for better support and services that we’re lacking here.”
The Queensland Law Society also slammed the name and shame proposal as a bad idea.
Society president Doctor John de Groot said there were “specific complexities” when dealing with children.
“Children need to be dealt with differently due to their vulnerability, dependence on their families and their continuing emotional, cognitive and physical development,” he said.
“When you consider they’re at this developmental stage, children need the opportunity to get back on the right track if they’ve committed an offence – naming and shaming throws up a major obstacle to this.”
Dr de Groot said naming and shaming child offenders reinforced community alienation and would deter future employers.
He urged government to refer the proposal to the Queensland Law Reform Commission.