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CYF lets down at-risk children

Judith Collins, National Party Welfare Spokeswoman
Simon Power, National Party Law & Order Spokesman

21 November 2005

CYF lets down at-risk children

Bad planning by Child, Youth and Family has resulted in at-risk children being held in police cells instead of in a purpose-built youth care facility, say two National MPs.

Welfare spokeswoman Judith Collins and Law & Order spokesman Simon Power are commenting after 50 young people spent nights in cramped Christchurch police cells while 32 beds at a new youth justice facility at Rolleston were empty due to lack of trained staff.

“This is ridiculous,” says Ms Collins. “Te Puna Wai o Tuhinapo has been years in the planning but they still haven’t got enough trained staff for it.

“Less than a month ago Welfare Minister Ruth Dyson said this facility would enable the department to ‘keep young offenders out of police cells’.

“It’s a pity she didn’t tell her department. This is another example of the state providing less-than-adequate care for children, and highlights a department that is incapable of thinking ahead.”

Mr Power says the debacle at Rolleston makes a joke of Labour’s previous utterings on the subject of youths being held in police cells.

“Justice Minister Phil Goff believes it is dangerous to keep youths in police cells, saying it is a recipe for suicide and ‘contrary to the United Nations convention on the rights of children … and contrary to common sense and decency’ (Evening Post, 8 July 1998).

“And new Police Minister, Annette King, is on record as expressing concern that young people are spending nights in police cells instead of in specialist facilities (Hansard, 15 May 1997).

“We can only hope they still hold those views and that they put pressure on Ruth Dyson to ensure her department gets it right - and fast,” says Mr Power. “The Police are already housing prisoners because of inadequate facilities, and they can't sustain this type of pressure much longer.”


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