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Labour failing to arrest youth arson problem

Simon Power National Party Law & Order Spokesman

8 May 2006

Labour failing to arrest youth arson problem

The Labour Government is failing to make any significant inroads into youth crime, says National's Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power.

He is commenting on statistics that show arson convictions for people under 19 years of age have increased by 33% since Labour came to office.

"After seven long years, many reports and lots of tinkering, Labour is clearly still a long way from getting on top of this very serious problem.

"These figures are a clear indication that Labour's youth crime initiatives are not working, because if more youth arsonists are being caught then it is a fair bet that more must be doing it.

"It's not surprising when the agency in charge of youth justice is CYF.

"This is the same organisation that allows some young offenders to have as many as 14 family group conferences, but can't tell whether they actually work or not, according to the State Services Commission.

"They have been asked to report on whether they're actually capable of looking after youth justice, but even that is nine months behind schedule.

"According to a Ministry of Justice report to the Minister, the police investigate suspicious fires 'but we understand that where a child is involved detectives will often not refer the young offenders to Youth Aid, often because of perceptions that nothing will be done to hold the child accountable'.

"The only way to get on top of crime is to attack it at its roots - young people. And the only way to reduce the number of people in prison is to stop people getting there in the first place, rather than throwing open the prison gates, as Labour wants to do.

"There are a lot of people doing some great things with youth but they are not getting the support they need from this Government."

ENDS

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