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Youth Offending Teams to be established

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice
Media Statement

27th August 2002

Youth Offending Teams to be established by late September

Vital reforms to ensure that government agencies work together effectively to tackle youth offending cannot come soon enough, says Justice Minister Phil Goff.

Mr Goff has announced that 30 new Youth Offending Teams will be in place across the country by the end of next month.

“The convictions of six young people in the Michael Choy case once again highlights the critical need to ensure that action to deal with young offenders is properly coordinated between the relevant agencies dealing with them.

“The Youth Offending Teams will be made up from members of the Police, Child Youth and Family, Health and Education.

“Their establishment was a strong recommendation from the Task Force on Youth Offending chaired by former Principal Youth Court Judge, David Carruthers.

“The Task Force found that there was often no formal relationship between health and education agencies and key youth justice agencies. That was a real obstacle to the delivery of effective and efficient youth justice services.

“It was often the case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing. This is reflected in some of the comments made at the end of the trial for the killing of Michael Choy.

“The Youth Offending Teams will coordinate responses at the local level to young offenders ensuring relevant information is shared between the agencies and the responses to the young offenders are mutually supportive.

“It means that the agencies dealing with the young offender can deal collectively with problems such as truancy, drug or alcohol use and history of abuse which are frequently part of the offending problem.

“The path taken by Bailey Junior Kurariki which ended in his involvement in the killing of Michael Choy reflects problems in family background, his own failure to take responsibility for his actions, the inability and refusal of schools to deal with his problems and an imperfect and uncoordinated response from the system.

“It’s wrong to pretend that there were easy answers to the problems revealed in this case. Along with Social Services Minister Steve Maharey, I am looking at what can be learned from what occurred.

“One critical answer, however, is to ensure that the agencies involved in dealing with a young offender like this are communicating and working together to make their response as effective as possible,” Mr Goff said.



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