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Alexander offers Nats help for crime policies

Alexander offers Nats help for crime policies

United Future’s law and order spokesman, Marc Alexander, says he welcomes National’s new-found commitment to fighting crime in New Zealand, but says National also needs United Future’s youth, gang and victims’ rights focus to make up a whole package.

“Don Brash is committed to spending millions at the end of the criminal lifestyle with no parole and more prisons, but United Future wants to begin at the roots of crime and not the outer branches,” he said.

“United Future announced a policy of going after the gangs last year – and we have legislation prepared to put it into action.

“It’s also noticeable that Dr Brash, in his weekend speech, mentioned victims just twice and victims’ rights not at all – an essential element of any successful anti-crime policy.

Mr Alexander said “The major thing missing from National’s solution is solid family intervention at an early age.

“The Australian Institute of Criminology reported research last year that the maltreatment of a child significantly increases the risk of that child becoming an offender before their 18th birthday.

“One important conclusion can be drawn from research – youth crime can be targeted, but for there to be any real success intervention with at risk families needs to before the years of offending begin.

“We need to look at the statistics in relation to youth justice and not resort to scaremongering.

“In the last 5 years or so, the youth offending statistics have been relatively stable. The problem is that there is a hard-core group of offenders (about 5-15% of youth offenders) who commit somewhere between 55% and 75% of all youth crime.

“Further, violent crime tends to be committed younger, and is more severe.

“Information from the youth court tells us this group

* is overwhelmingly male,

* had dysfunctional families with no male role model,

* 80% have not attended high school since the third form,

* most have alcohol and drug problems –

* and there is a totally disproportionate representation of Maori.

“United Future does support the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility but given the facts above, we believe that responsibility needs to be returned to parents and families to ensure that their young people do not offend.

“We propose that where appropriate, parents are held responsible as co-offenders for the offences their children commit – including liability for damages and reparation.

“Further, because youth offenders come from a pool of people not connected with the education system, we would introduce a national truancy database as recommended in 1992 – and ensure parents are responsible for ensuring their children receive education,” said Mr Alexander.

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