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Youth justice in crisis, says National

Youth justice in crisis, says National

The age of criminal responsibility should be dropped to 12 years of age if increasing youth crime is to be stopped, says National's Police spokesman Tony Ryall.

The latest newsletter from the Police Association says sweeping changes are needed to stop youths thumbing their noses at the justice system. "The Police Association is right to alert the country to the disarray in the youth justice sector," Mr Ryall says.

"We can't rely on a properly resourced CYF. In fact, this week I met a leading truancy officer who told me he bypasses CYF, preferring to work with alternative social agencies.

"The problem is that it is taking too long for agencies to start working with young offenders. Repeat family group conferences are a waste of time. The agencies should be working with these young people and their families as soon as they come to the attention of the authorities.

"If we step in earlier we may prevent re-offending.

Mr Ryall says criminal responsibility should drop to at least 12 years of age so the Youth Court can have more influence.

"National wants the Youth Court to have the power to order parents to parenting courses and other programmes to help them deal with their wayward children.

"If we are serious about stopping youth crime then parents are going to have to take some responsibility for helping.

"Let's be clear. The ultimate accountability lies with the young person. But many factors contribute to their behaviour, and parenting is one of them."

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