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Youth Drug Court Aims To Break Youth Crime Cycle

24 April 2002

The Christchurch Youth Drug Court is the first initiative arising out of the Government’s Task Force on Youth Crime aimed at reducing youth offending, Justice Minister Phil Goff said today.

Up to eighty percent of young offenders are estimated to have a drug or alcohol abuse problem. They either offend to obtain drugs and alcohol or offend under the influence of those substances.

“Preventing further offending requires that we tackle and deal with that problem.

“The Youth Drug Court uses the judicial process to refer young offenders with identified serious drug and alcohol problems to a treatment plan under judicial supervision.

“The successful completion of the treatment plan will then be taken into account in the final sentencing of the young offender.

“The Judge will be assisted by a Youth Drug Court team, made up of representatives from the Police, Child Youth and Family, a Ministry of Health Youth Specialty Services clinician, the Ministry of Education Specialist Education Service, and a Youth Advocate.

“This team will ensure the effective coordination of all services, taking a holistic approach to tackle all of the problems contributing to offending.

“The process involves a cooperative and integrated approach by all agencies, intensive monitoring of the offender’s progress by the Court and a Judge and team known to and well-informed about the offender.

“It draws on experience from Youth Drug Courts overseas and will reduce offending and lower costs to the community.

“Up to 50 offenders aged 14-17 years will participate in the first pilot which will be evaluated over a twelve month period.

“If the pilot is as successful as we are confident it will be, the programme will be extended to cover other metropolitan areas.

“If we can tackle the causes of offending and break the cycle of youth offending leading to adult criminal activity, this programme will pay huge dividends to society,” Mr Goff said.

Ends

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