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A youth justice checklist

A youth justice checklist

Monday 21 Mar 2005

Stephen Franks - Press Releases - Crime & Justice

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today issued a checklist of what National's youth justice policy should have.

National leader Dr Don Brash will release his party's youth justice policy during a speech on law and order in Tauranga this afternoon.

"I will be checking his policy against the work we have been doing on youth justice," Mr Franks said. "I hope he scores highly."

Mr Franks said serious youth crime had spiralled out of control under Labour's soft on crime policy.

"They don't even know how much youth crime there is," Mr Franks said. "Incomplete data says that 14 to 16 year olds recorded close to 34,000 offences requiring police intervention last year. About 2000 will be formally processed through the youth court and there will be around 7000 family group conferences.

Mr Franks said the biggest changes should be made in entry-level crime. "It's too late once they have a pattern of offending," Mr Franks said. "What should be done is simple."

· Don't patronise young people: They should know it is unlawful when they buy cigarettes or alcohol or are drunk or offer themselves up for prostitution.

· Bad company breeds bad behaviour: Restore non-association orders as a routine and strictly enforced consequence of offending to break up gangs and make bad company a burden.

· No real family, no group conference: Allow family group conferencing only for initial offences, so it is seen as a second chance, not a soft touch.

· Punish bad parents: Hold parents responsible for readily preventable child offending

· Protect good parents: Protect parents, clubs, schools and employers who set behaviour standards from being pilloried by the courts.

· Restore shame: End name and record suppression for guilty young people and their families to cancel the message that youth offending does not really matter. Concern to protect family reputations is the best first incentive for behaving.

Dr Brash must reject Labour's failed politically correct youth justice policy," Mr Franks said. "Research shows criminals are gamblers. Uncertainty encourages them. Speed and certainty of punishment is more important than longer or harsher punishment. For young people this is even more important than for adults."

ENDS

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