By Tom Minear, State Political Reporter
June 21, 2018
New Children's Court of Victoria data shows 240 teens were put behind bars in 2017, the most since 2011 and a big increase since the figure fell to 141 youths detained in 2014.
This is despite the number of youths being found guilty of crimes falling to the lowest level in a decade: 2822 last year compared with 6633 in 2009.
The Children's Court said "the serious nature of offending" of "a small cohort of young people" had driven the surge in detention.
The 23,461 incidents involving youths aged 15 to 19 in the year to March was down 7.5 per cent on the year before.
But the Crime Statistics Agency data showed the number of accused persons aged 10 to 14 had risen by 5 per cent, to the highest level in five years.
Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos said the government's sentencing and bail reforms had responded to "a small cohort of young offenders. That's why we're building more beds in our facilities, including a $288 million high-security youth detention facility in Cherry Creek," she said.
The state Opposition's spokeswoman on families and children, Georgie Crozier, questioned how the number of offenders found guilty was at a decade low "despite the wave of youth crime.
"It's no wonder Victorians have lost confidence in Daniel Andrews and youth justice," she said.
The Children's Court report showed it also dealt with 18,133 child protection applications last year, up from 11,912 in 2012. And 1600 intervention orders were granted, many of which dealt with adolescents who were violent in the family home.
Overall, 30 per cent of the Court's work involved criminal cases. Of the 2822 youths found guilty of criminal offences last year, 950 were placed on good behaviour bonds, 549 were fined and 456 were placed on probation.
Its annual report, tabled in Parliament on Thursday, also highlighted a significant increase in the number of alleged youth offenders being held on remand, with 79 on remand in May last year prior to the introduction of a new fast-track court.
It comes as the latest crime stats, released last week, showed youths aged 15 to 19 were the alleged offenders in more crimes against the person and property and deception offences than any other age group.
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