Police cautioning in Queensland: the impact of juvenile offending trajectories

Criminology Research Council grant ; (35/03-04)

Contained in this report are the results of a study linking two birth cohorts (1983 and 1984) across three Queensland government administrative data systems (child protection, police cautioning and finalised court appearances). Within this study there are two projects. The first extends the work of the Pathways from child maltreatment to juvenile offending report, by adding an additional birth cohort and widening the definition of juvenile offending from finalised court appearances to include formal police cautioning. The second project examines the efficacy of police cautioning in preventing re-offending among young people.

In Queensland, one in four males under the age of 17 and one in ten females came into contact with the juvenile justice system, either through a police caution or a finalised court appearance, for offending behaviour. Similar to the findings of the original study, children who were the victims of child maltreatment were more likely to offend than children who had not been maltreated. Furthermore, the nature and timing of the victimisation contributed to the likelihood of children offending. These findings were more pronounced among males and Indigenous children. The majority of young people who came into contact with the juvenile justice system received a police caution. Of these young people just over 30 per cent re-offended and were either cautioned or ended up in court. Young people whose first contact with the juvenile justice system resulted in a finalised court appearance were more likely to re-offend than those whose first contact resulted in a police caution.