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Youth Crime Strategy Is A Defence Of Status Quo

Youth Crime Strategy Is A Lacklustre Defence Of The Status Quo


After taking nearly three years to develop a so-called Youth Crime Strategy, the Government has produced totally predictable rhetoric that simply perpetuates the status quo, ACT Justice Spokesman MP Stephen Franks said today.

"There are no meaningful targets. New Zealanders have seen youth violent crime double over ten years, and robbery and grievous assaults triple. In contrast, the US figures have dropped steadily. The report has been produced by people committed to the present system, which prioritises the interests of the offenders, rather than justice and punishment for the crime.

"The Government thinks that the failure of the existing approach can be addressed simply by providing more resources. The offender-centred approach this report advocates has not worked, and it never will.

"Youth justice simply has to work if we are to get out of our crime swamp. We should:

· Impose adult sentences for adult crimes, ensuring young people serve their sentences in facilities separate from career criminals.

· Create a single agency (preferably the Police) and give it the responsibility and the full resources, rights and powers for ensuring orders in respect of child offenders are carried out.

· Limit Family Group Conferencing to only first and second offenders who have responsible family members, but end it as routine for habitual offenders.

· Drop the age for criminal responsibility to ten for homicide (like the UK) and serious assaults, and to age 12 for all other offences.

· End name and record suppression for guilty young people and their families, and open up closed courts.

· Abolish the Youth Court and end Family Court involvement in crime

"The Government report doesn't question the theories driving our system. Instead, looking past the rhetoric, our Government's report urges a redoubling of efforts to make failed theories work. That might work politically in the short term, but the approach will never work in practice," Mr Franks said.

Ends

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