One time criminals not destined for life of crime but certain demographics at greater risk

A MAMMOTH study including Wagga crooks has debunked the common belief that those who commit a crime are destined to enter the revolving door of prison.

Just 23 per cent of violent offenders who had been convicted of a violent crime were found to later reoffend, a figure that pales in comparison to the general assumption. 

However, the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found that out of 26,472 lawbreakers studied state-wide, teenagers and Indigenous people were most likely to commit a second crime. 

Among those aged 17 and under, 42 per cent were found to reoffend – and out of those who were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, 43 per cent had reoffended. 

Wagga police backed the confronting evidence, admitting that teenagers and Indigenous individuals were responsible for a significant chunk of the city’s arson and home invasion epidemics. 

Inspector Darren Cloake said there were deep-seated social issues in parts of the community that have led to a heightened number of Aboriginal youth taking up crime. 

“To fix them, the community needs to recognise them and work together to address them,” Inspector Cloake said.

“The key element I see in all of this is education.”

Wagga PCYC manager Blake Dunn, who has regular contact with at-risk Aboriginal youth, said years of inter-generational trauma were largely to blame. 

A proud Wiradjuri man, Mr Dunn said issues of crime and anti-social behaviour were often complex and deeply embedded in a teen’s family and personal history.

“There are issues unique to Aboriginal people because of what’s happened over hundreds of years,” Mr Dunn said.

“I remember as a young bloke growing up in Dubbo and every time you went into a shop you would be watched closely because you had a darker skin.

“My grandfather wasn’t even allowed to go to school.”

Malicious damage to property and theft were found to be the most likely crimes re-committed by those released from detention.

Wagga police also revealed that, to their knowledge, some young men and teenagers considered being in a juvenile detention centre to be a right of passage into adulthood.

“If that is the message getting out it is a concerning one,” Inspector Cloake said. 

It comes on the back of Operation Assure 2, which saw police make 22 arrests.


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