Youth crime action plan unveiled

Last updated 13:36 31/10/2013
Fairfax NZ

The Government expects the number of young people appearing before the Youth Court to drop by 25 per cent by 2017.

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The Government expects the number of young people appearing before the Youth Court to drop by 25 per cent by 2017 under a youth crime action plan released today.

The plan would also seek to reduce crime by children and young people over the next 10 years, Associate Minister of Justice and for Social Development Chester Borrows said.

The plan was launched at the Foundation for Youth Development in, Wiri, South Auckland.

Borrows said the plan was not about locking up more young people and it "deliberately turns away from the idea of a youth-justice pipeline".

"Opportunities for young people to exit the youth justice system are a key theme... it is not inevitable that a young offender will fall into an ongoing life of crime," he said.

Borrows said New Zealand was recognised internationally as having a world-leading approach to child and youth offending and the new plan was an extension of that.

It was a practical approach to support youth justice services, frontline workers, service providers and volunteers.

The plan was "exactly what we want at this time," Minister of Maori Affairs and Associate Minister of Corrections Pita Sharples said.

"It is so easy to stand back and say I wish this didn't happen, and why is it like this... but it

needn't be that bad."

Sharples said the plan was "very important for us Maori because we are over represented in almost every negative crime statistic".

A to-do list of 30 practical actions would be put in place by government agencies over the next 10 years, the Borrows said.

He said existing initiatives to tackle youth crime were paying off but challenges remained, particularly ensuring young people were helped at the earliest opportunity and addressing the fact that young Maori were over-represented in the youth justice system.

PLAN PRIORITIES

- Creating local community action plans to identify local crime problems and how best to address them.

- Developing a quick tool to screen young offenders and work out how best to deal with them.

- Improve family group conferences including putting in place performance standards, creating a new accreditation system for conference co-ordinators and piloting iwi-led conferences.

- Developing a practical reference guide for frontline staff.

- Finding alternatives, including electronic monitoring, to remanding young people in residential facilities, without compromising public safety.

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