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Government failing to cut youth crime

Tony Ryall National Law & Order spokesman

23 May 2004

Government failing to cut youth crime

More and more young people are committing crime, and violence is on the increase, National's Law and Order spokesman Tony Ryall says.

Figures obtained by Mr Ryall through written questions to Police Minister George Hawkins show that in 2003 there were 1899 more offences committed by youths less than 17 years of age than in 2002, an increase of 5.9%. The total number of crimes committed by youths last year was 33,994.

The biggest increases were in property damage, which rose 18.6% to 3999 offences. Violence increased 6% to 3882 offences, and sexual offending 7.8% to 192.

Regions which showed the biggest increases in all youth crime were Otago/Southland, up 37%, Counties Manukau 25%, Bay of Plenty 17%, and Taranaki, Wanganui, Manawatu and Rangitikei 15%.

The figures also show that youth crime has increased by 10.8% since the Labour Government came into power in 1999.

The biggest increase between 1999 and 2003 were violence crimes, up 20%, sex crimes, up 82%, property damage, up 15%, and dishonesty, up 9% to 17,026 offences.

"These figures speak for themselves," says Mr Ryall.

"The Labour Government's promise of a crackdown on youth crime continues to be seen for the sham it is.

"Rather than getting better, things are steadily getting worse. This Government is running out of time to do something to stop this crime spiral.

"The youth justice system is under real pressure and doesn't appear to be making much difference to youth offending. We need to give the Youth Court wider powers to deal with these young offenders. Some parents must also learn to take more accountability for their children's behaviour," says Mr Ryall.

Ends

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