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Aggressive Action Needed To Curb Teen Crime

Media Release

15 September 2003

Aggressive Action Needed To Curb Teen Crime

New Zealand First has questioned the Government’s commitment to reducing youth offending.

“It is time for the Government to start aggressively targeting entry level crime if young people are to be stopped entering into a life of crime,” said youth affairs spokesperson Craig McNair.

“Figures showing that the number of violent crime cases for youth offenders, including those for sexual assault and homicide, have almost doubled since 1992 are alarming.

“This is the tip of the iceberg as these figures relate only to those dealt with through the youth court and does not include the vast numbers of youth apprehended and dealt with using alternate means.

“Long term solutions are simple and basic. Young people need to understand that when they offend the first time they will be dealt with. Young people are capable of making decisions about the sort of life they want to lead.

The Government should:

-Lower the age of criminal responsibility and accountability to 14 years of age. Young people are aware of their actions and this must be reflected in policies of criminal responsibility.

- Introduce the principle of ‘3 strikes and you’re out’. This will mean that an offender convicted for three crimes for which they have been sentenced to any period of community service or incarceration in a prison or correction centre will be required to serve a minimum period.

- Introduce military-like or community service training for young unemployed people in trouble with the law. Such programmes work to foster discipline and self-esteem and to bring order into their lives. Young people growing up without jobs, self-discipline or direction are a recipe for disaster.

“The Government must be prepared to take tough action. Soft words and ‘band aids’ have not stemmed the crime wave. Youth offenders must learn discipline, respect and responsibility if we are to effectively turn them away from a life of crime and re-offending,” said Mr McNair.


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