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Family Group Conferences aren't reducing crime

Family Group Conferences aren't reducing crime

Dr Muriel Newman
Tuesday, 19 April 2005
Press Releases - Crime & Justice

New figures show repeat Family Group Conferences with young offenders are not reducing crime, ACT Deputy Leader and police spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

Answers to parliamentary questions show the number of Family Group Conferences increased by 1,500, from 6,196 in 2002 to 7,656 in 2004, yet Ministry of Justice figures show the overall rate of youth offending increased by 4% with some classes of youth crime increasing significantly. In particular property crime rose 24% while violent crime jumped 9%.

“These figures once again raise questions over the effectiveness of FCGs,” Dr Newman said. “Crime has continued to rise and anecdotally in almost every town in New Zealand there is growing concern over young people who are engaging in petty crime like graffiti, shop lifting and offensive behaviour.

“For far too many young offenders FGCs are like a slap over the hand with a wet bus ticket. It is clear that for those young offenders parents need to take responsibility and if that doesn’t happen their children should be taken off them. If children are not turning up to school their parents should be prosecuted.

Dr Newman said FGCs undoubtedly served an important role with first time young offenders who needed a short sharp jolt but they were a waste of time for repeat offenders.

“More and more young offenders are being dealt with by a process that fails to alter their behaviour and attitude,” Dr Newman said. “The current system is failing a large proportion of these young people who become increasingly confident with each offence and who are getting closer and closer to becoming hardened adult criminals.”

ENDS

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