28 April 2024

New Queensland police chief appointed as Youth Crime Taskforce made permanent

| James Day
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Police Commissioner standing with two policewomen and another man

Queensland’s new Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski (left) visited the site of Townsville’s $100 million police academy. Photos: Facebook/Steven Miles.

It’s been a big week for the Queensland Police Service (QPS), with its new chief Steve Gollschewski APM unlocking a swathe of funding largely focused on youth crime.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles announced the appointment of the 21st Police Commissioner, who took on the role for an interim period after Katarina Carroll stepped down in March.

While she was seen by some as a scapegoat for criticism of the QPS’s handling of youth crime and disorder within the ranks, Ms Carroll denied the allegations and said it was time for new leadership.

As Deputy Commissioner, Mr Gollschewski was well known around the Sunshine State for leading the police response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Premier worked closely with him during that time and said he was an extraordinarily competent and experienced leader.

“As Acting Commissioner, he acted quickly to initiate new statewide police operations including Operation Whiskey Legion,” Mr Miles said.

“Under his strong leadership, these operations have shown early signs of significantly disrupted and prevented crime.

“My government will continue to listen to Commissioner Gollschewski and the Queensland Police Service, and together we will deliver a comprehensive and action-focused community safety plan.”

police chief

The new police chief is Queensland’s most experienced deputy commissioner, with more than 10 years in the senior position and over 44 years in the force.

Two major changes were recently made to the state’s community safety plan: a $13.55 million investment into extending the Youth Co-Responder Teams model, and converting the Youth Crime Taskforce into a permanent operational capability.

The model is a joint initiative between the QPS and the Department of Youth Justice, whereby specialist staff connect with young people who come into contact with the criminal justice system or are at risk of doing so. Its success as a preventive strategy has coincided with the taskforce’s key role in overseeing the QPS response to youth crime.

Under Acting Assistant Commissioner Andrew Massingham, Premier Miles said the taskforce had brought a more than 10 per cent decrease in youth offending this year.

“High visibility and flying squad operations are overseen by the taskforce, which are proving to prevent, intervene and deter crime,” the Premier said. “That’s why we are making them permanent in our community safety plan.”

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Commissioner Gollschewski said the operations of Taskforce Guardian had contributed significantly to the reduction in youth offences across Queensland.

Guardian was established by the taskforce as a dedicated flying squad of experienced detectives, who are deployed to targeted areas for saturation policing operations – a patrol tactic where a large number of officers are concentrated into a small geographic area.

The new police chief said making the taskforce permanent would ensure that prevention and intervention strategies continued to be implemented as a priority.

Funding was also announced to establish a PolAir helicopter capability for Cairns and the Far North, along with 900 more police, including 500 extra sworn and 400 unsworn officers. On top of these, the QPS revealed its plans for the $28 million upgrade of the Hervey Bay police station.

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