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Judge Confirms Worrying Trend

Media Release

27 February 2006

Judge Confirms Worrying Trend

New Zealand First law and order spokesperson Ron Mark blames a soft youth justice system for the apparent surge in serious violent offences being committed by teenagers.

Mr Mark's comments follow suggestions by Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Beacroft that teenagers are becoming involved in more serious offending.

New Zealand First has secured the Government’s agreement to progress Mr Mark’s Members Bill which seeks the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years of age for serious offences.

“Youngsters are committing more violent offences knowing that if they are under 17 they will be hit with the full might of a family group conference if they are caught,” said Mr Mark.

“It is clear that the youth justice system is too lenient towards violent offenders under the age of 17 and that the Police, by their own admission, are becoming frustrated due to being powerless to act in such cases.

“Young people and their parents must be made more accountable to the community for their crimes and lowering the age of criminal responsibility for serious offences is an important step in that process.

“Early intervention is crucial if we are to prevent young offenders graduating to a life of crime,” Mr Mark said.


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