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Breaking the cycle of youth crime

Bill English National Party Leader

5 June 2002

Breaking the cycle of youth crime

National will tackle the problem of youth crime head-on by making young offenders face up to their actions, and helping them to turn their lives around, says National Leader, Bill English.

"A quarter of New Zealand's crime is committed by young people. A pattern of crime is becoming set in place, and it must be broken to stop young offenders becoming hard-core criminals.

"They must be made to face up to their actions. Serious offending by 12 and 13 year olds - who are too young to be covered by the Youth Court - and 14 to 17 year olds has jumped sharply in the last two years. But the problem is being shunned.

"National will intervene early to stop young offenders falling into a life of crime. We will reduce the age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 12 to allow the Youth Court and Police Youth Aid to step in early, we will expand restorative justice programmes, and we will put the responsibility back into parenting.

"A commonsense approach to responsibility is needed. In Australian states, the age of criminal responsibility varies from 7 to 10. In the United Kingdom, the age is 10. In Canada, it is 12.

"Early intervention is the key and National will reinforce this with programmes to build the confidence and self esteem of young offenders to get them back on track. We will boost the Youth Life Skills programme and Limited Services Volunteer scheme and expand the scope of the Youth Court.

"This Government has missed too many opportunities to stem the flow of young people sliding into crime, by not building on successful youth aid programmes.

"National will deliver the tough, effective measures needed to encourage young offenders to take hold of their lives and break out of the crime cycle, says Mr English.

Ends

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