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Children in police cells - Hone Harawira

Children in police cells - Hone Harawira

“What sort of society are we creating, if we allow our most vulnerable, our children, to be locked up in police cells?” asked Hone Harawira, Māori Party spokesperson on justice.

“I am outraged – as every parent and grandparent will also be – to learn that Child, Youth and Family Services have willingly put children into police cells, as a ‘holding pen’ for youth justice units".

Child, Youth and Family have confirmed that twelve children are being held in police cells throughout New Zealand.
“I was gutted to learn that one boy spent twelve days in a cell before they found room for him in a youth justice unit, and another two were locked up for ten days. A police cell is no place for a young person” stated Mr Harawira.

“For too long now, whanau members have spoken of their grief and anger at learning one of their children has been locked up, with the implication that being confined in a windowless cell will teach them a lesson".

‘Perhaps we should ask those who are making these decisions to try the same experiment - a night in the cells might give them a chance to think of better ways to respond to youth offending”.

"The Māori Party will be taking these issues up with the Minister of Police and the Minister of Social Development (CYFS)” said Mr Harawira. “We will be asking them for an urgent briefing on the numbers, characteristics and experiences of children and young people across the range of places in which they may be detained”.

“We will also be asking why youth and adult offenders are being mixed together, and calling for an immediate action plan to provide alternative accommodation for our young people”.

“The bottom line is - the police are not equipped with being able to respond to the complex needs of our young people. It’s got to stop now”.

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