Town takes a soft approach to hardened teens

Keep young people who commit minor crimes out of court: Qld review: Children and teens who commit minor crimes should be kept out of Queensland's court system, according to a review that aims to stem youth crime. Former police commissioner Bob Atkinson, who has led a review of Queensland's youth justice system, says the focus must be on prevention and diversion programs. His recommendations include keeping minor offences by young people out of the courts, more flexible options to keep young Queenslanders engaged in education, and support for parents as early as the prenatal stage.

ABOUT 20 police officers, business owners and community leaders gathered for the first meeting of the Chinchilla Youth High Risk Panel, aimed at reducing juvenile offending.

While effectively a meet-and-greet, the meeting on Wednesday included a cross section of the community.

Chinchilla Chamber of Commerce manager Robyn Haig said she was committed to finding a way to end the cycle of offending that had trapped too many young people in her town.

"That is what everyone can agree on, both police and the families that those offenders come from," she said.

"That means we have to help those offenders with the origins of that offending.

"We are not concerned with pointing the finger."

The meeting included representatives from community organisations and charities that work with at-risk teens.

Ms Haig said the business community was open to mentoring offenders and giving them a path to a better life.

It is hoped those programs would disrupt the networks of young offenders.

"We have a great community, and the vast majority of us are super proud of our town," Ms Haig said.

"We are hopeful what if we bring those young offenders into the fold then we would see this offending fall."

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