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Ministerial Taskforce On Youth Offending

A Ministerial Taskforce led by Principal Youth Court Judge, David Carruthers, has been established to develop and build on a co-ordinated package of initiatives to reduce youth crime, Justice Minister Phil Goff and Social Services Minister Steve Maharey announced today.

"Ministry of Justice figures show that over the decade of the 1990s, offending by 10 to 16 year olds increased by 55%.

"Children and young people of this age are at a formative stage in their life. It is critical that we address their behavioural problems while they are still amenable to change and before their offending becomes an entrenched part of their adult lives.

"Tackling youth offending in the past has suffered from a fragmentation of approach with many agencies involved and inadequate coordination between them.

"Among the problems in dealing with young offenders under the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act have been insufficient involvement by family or victims, poorly structured plans and a lack of monitoring of Family Group Conference outcomes.

"Agencies too often took a 'silo' approach, when a holistic approach addressing a wide range of factors behind youth offending was necessary.

"The role of the Taskforce will be to develop and build on a set of initiatives to achieve a coordinated and effective response to youth offending.

"Judge Carruthers will chair the Taskforce while remaining a sitting judge. His vision, independence, experience and specialist knowledge of what is and is not working will be a key to ensuring agencies co-operate together and focus on effective and practical initiatives.

"Along with Judge Carruthers, the Taskforce will comprise the Chief Executives of the Ministries of Justice, Social Policy, Youth Affairs and Pacific Island Affairs, Departments of Child, Youth and Family Services, and Courts, New Zealand Police, the Crime Prevention Unit and Te Puni Kokiri.

"The Taskforce was established on 1 October and will report finally to Ministers with detailed proposals to reduce youth offending by 30 September 2001.

ENDS
Terms of Reference attached

TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR THE MINISTERIAL TASKFORCE

Role
The Ministerial Taskforce will be a time limited intervention, responsible for developing and driving through a co-ordinated package of initiatives to reduce youth crime and ensuring a collective interest approach to the use of resources in the youth justice sector. The initiatives will be focused on improving practice, processes and co-ordination between justice sector agencies.

Membership
The members will be the Chief Executives, or their representatives, agreed by both the Chief Executive and the Taskforce Chair, of the following agencies: Ministries of Justice, Social Policy, Youth Affairs and Pacific Island Affairs; Departments of Child, Youth and Family Services, and Courts; New Zealand Police; Crime Prevention Unit and Te Puni Kokiri. Other agencies, such as the Treasury and the Department of Corrections, will be asked to join the Taskforce to discuss particular issues.

Role of the Chair
The Taskforce will be chaired by Judge Carruthers, the Principal Youth Court Judge. Judge Carruthers will continue to sit as a judge and work for the Taskforce 1-2 days per week. His role will be facilitative, designed to establish a bridge across the top of various sector interests. He will ensure agencies co-operate and focus on effective operational initiatives.

Reporting
The Taskforce will report regularly to the Ministers whose agencies are members of the Taskforce, namely: the Ministers of Justice (convenor), Social Services, Police, Courts, Mäori Affairs and Pacific Island Affairs.

Term of Taskforce
The Taskforce will commence from 1 October 2000 and will report finally to Ministers by 30 September 2001. The strictly time limited duration of the Taskforce reflects its short-term, goal-oriented nature and ensures that there is no on-going intermingling of judicial and executive functions.

Servicing of Taskforce
Officials from the Ministries of Justice and Social Policy will service the Taskforce. These Ministries have joint responsibility for the leadership of youth justice policy.

Remuneration, Costs and Expenses
Judge Carruthers will continue to receive his judicial salary while being a member of the Taskforce. The costs of servicing the Taskforce will be met within the Ministry of Justice’s baselines. Other agencies’ costs associated with involvement in the Taskforce will also be met within their baselines


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