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Ministers fail to meet over youth offending

Chester Borrows
National Party Associate Law & Order Spokesman

05 June 2006

Ministers fail to meet over youth offending

It is not surprising there is a critical shortage of youth justice beds when the Government's high-powered Minister's Group on the Youth Offending Strategy has not met for three years, says National's Associate Law & Order spokesman, Chester Borrows.

CYF figures show that in April, 52 young people were held in police or remand cells for an average of four nights because all 102 youth justice beds were taken.

"This is not good enough," says Mr Borrows. "Where is the Minister's Group on the Youth Offending Strategy?

"That group - which comprises the core Ministers of Justice and Social Development, but can also include the Ministers of Police, Courts, Education, Health, Maori Affairs, Pacific Island Affairs and Youth Affairs as required - has not met since March 2003, according to responses to parliamentary questions."

All of these portfolios, except for Associate Social Development (CYF) and Maori Affairs, have different Ministers now than they did in March 2003.

"Sure, officials from the Police, Justice Ministry, Child Youth and Family, and the Children's Commission had a meeting last week - but that was only after news of a special court sitting appeared in the media.

"This situation is serious enough to warrant the full attention of the Ministers charged with responsibility in this area. "For them to have not met for three years brings into question this Government's commitment to tackling youth crime.

"And it comes on top of the fact that CYF has not yet completed a report into their capacity to run youth justice - a report that is nine months overdue.
"The young people who are spending time in police and remand cells are entitled to some answers from this Government."

ENDS

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