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600 Detention Nights Behind Bars For Youth

600 Detention Nights Behind Bars For Youth This Year

Heather Roy Tuesday, 22 November 2005 Press Releases - Social Welfare

Answers to new Parliamentary Questions reveal the full extent to which overcrowded youth justice residences have led to young people being kept in police cells, says ACT Social Services Spokesman, Heather Roy.

"In January, young people known to Child Youth and Family Services spent a total of 68 detention nights in police custody - an average of 2.2 young people behind bars every night. In September, there were 81 detention nights - almost three young people each night. Already in November, there have been 39 detention nights," Mrs Roy said.

"Young people have spent over 600 detention nights in police cells so far this year, most simply waiting for a residential bed to become available.

"New Zealand's fragmented approach to the well-being of children is failing our most vulnerable - and most at risk - young New Zealanders.

"The chairperson of the Social Services Select Committee has confirmed to me in Parliament that Paula Tyler, the outgoing Chief Executive of Child, Youth and Family, is due to appear before the committee tomorrow.

"I look forward to questioning Ms Tyler over the priority that the Associate Minister responsible for CYF, Ruth Dyson, has given to the provision of adequate residential care.

"The new youth justice facility with 32 beds, Te Puna Wai Tuhinapo, needs to be staffed and opened as soon as possible. Housing our young people in prison cells when more suitable facilities lie empty is clearly not acceptable.

"Ms Dyson cannot continue to stand by while children and young people are ignored by the government she supports," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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