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Adult Crime Should Mean Adult Treatment

Adult Crime Should Mean Adult Treatment

ACT New Zealand Police Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today that it was time the law was changed, so that teenagers who commit crimes should expect to be held in police custody.

"The furore over a Hamilton teenager being held in Tauranga police cells due to a lack of beds in CYF secure units is misguided. Having been arrested on a string of charges for burglary and car theft, police cells are absolutely appropriate for this young offender," Dr Newman said.

"Even his lawyer said it `was not in the public interest to have the boy on the street'. He set out to deliberately commit crime, and got caught. He needs to feel the full force of the law.

Our New Zealand laws deem that a 16 year-old is old enough to drive and marry. It's time we faced up to the truth - that teenagers who deliberately set out to commit adult crimes, knowing full well they are breaking the law, should be treated as such and face the full consequences of their actions.

"For too long, offenders under 17 go on crime sprees because they know they can get away with it. Yet an effective justice system works because the fear of being caught, and of the punishment that follows, outweigh the benefits of crime. In New Zealand, however, being under 17 means offenders effectively get away with just a slap on the wrist.

"ACT has long advocated following examples that have worked overseas. Criminal responsibility for homicide begins at age 10 in Britain. New Zealand should follow suit, and lower criminal responsibility to age 12 for all other offences.

"This would send a clear message to teenagers, that if they commit crime, they will not get off easy. Many of these repeat youth offenders are on the road to becoming career criminals. Along the way they will almost certainly cross the line into violent crime. Only a change to our current laws will prevent these young people from going down that slippery slope," said Dr Newman.

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