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‘If they’re not in custody, they’re offending’: Top cop says police are helpless to stop ‘hardcore’ young criminals

Victoria’s police chief has expressed helplessness in the facing of juvenile crime that he says is becoming more violent.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said there is a group of several hundred young offenders who the justice system is powerless to stop.

“There’s a hardcore group and if they’re not in juvenile justice they’re offending. It’s their way of life now, it seems,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“They commit offences on a nightly basis until we can catch up with them. When we get hold of them they’re back in juvenile justice until the next time they’re out.

“I don’t know that we’re ever going to change some of their behaviours.”

Mr Ashton said the behaviour of the young offenders in custody is also a problem.

“The behaviour that the poor corrections people have to put up with in some of these centres is pretty serious,” he said.

“Some of the behaviours are worse than the adult prisoners.”

The chief commissioner said his focus is stopping other youths on the fringes of the core group from offending.

“My concern is for that broader group that can attach themselves to those hardcore groups,” he said.

“They’re the ones that we need to try and make sure we can turn around as quickly as possible.”

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