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Government Responds To Doone Report

Justice Minister Phil Goff today released the Report on Combating and Preventing Maori Crime produced by former Police Commissioner Peter Doone. Mr Goff outlined an immediate Government response to it and also foreshadowed future action.

"The Report provides a useful contribution to the Government's development of a comprehensive strategy on crime prevention," Mr Goff said.

"Mr Doone has been able to draw upon a life time's experience with the police force as well as his academic skills in writing the Report. He addresses the causes of Maori offending and proposes practical steps to reduce Maori crime.

"The Report highlights the fact that Maori are over-represented at every stage of the criminal justice process. They are over 3 times more likely to be apprehended for a criminal offence than non-Maori and make up 51 percent of the prison population while being only 14 percent of the general population.

"However, the Report says that ethnicity itself is not a factor causing crime. The cause lies in Maori being over-represented in the social risk factors that contribute to criminal behaviour.

"Programmes effective in changing the behaviour of offenders or potential offenders need to address the risk factors. They need to do this in a way relevant to how the offender sees himself.

"Yesterday, Cabinet allocated new funding from the budget contingency fund to close social gaps which address key risk factors in offending highlighted in the Doone Report.

 Vote Child Youth and Family receives new funding of $16.4 million over four years. This targets family violence and its effect on child abuse and later propensity for criminal offending. Programmes promote better parenting, and social and employment initiatives for Maori youth at risk of offending.

 Vote Health receives $2.8 million over four years to fund providers to develop family violence protocols, to train providers to recognise family violence and to fund public health campaigns to reduce family violence.

 Vote Education receives $4.2 million over four years to promote alternatives to suspension for Maori students with behavioural problems. This measure will assist principals to find ways to keep at risk Maori students at school and learning. Currently the suspension rate for Maori students is 3.6 times the rate for non-Maori. The Principal Youth Court Judge has identified as a major factor in youth offending absence from school, either through suspension or truancy.

"These measures come on top of the $93 million youth offending package announced in this year's budget.

"The Doone Report also recommends a "best practice" model for programmes for Maori youth at risk of offending, proper programme evaluation and the need to implement such programmes in a systematic and comprehensive fashion.

"There are currently a large number of pilot programmes and initiatives to prevent offending. These require evaluation to identify the most successful programmes delivering the best results before any are expanded in a comprehensive way.

"The Report also promotes the need for an integrated approach across justice and social sectors to tackle the causes of offending. The Ministerial Taskforce on youth offending, led by Principal Youth Court Judge David Curruthers was established in October to take a holistic approach to address the causes of youth offending.

ENDS

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