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Youth Justice debacle continues

Anne Tolley
National Party Associate Welfare (CYFS) Spokeswoman

Chester Borrows
National Party Associate Law & Order Spokesman

15 June 2006

Youth Justice debacle continues

Young offenders are being held in prisons, motels and backpackers because of a shortage of beds in youth justice facilities, say National MPs Anne Tolley and Chester Borrows.

"Lack of action by the Government has led to a severe shortage of beds, and the situation is not about to improve," says Mrs Tolley, National's Associate Welfare spokeswoman (CYFS).

"The Minister, Ruth Dyson, has told the Social Services Select Committee there will be no new beds in the next 12 months.

"This is not good enough. There has been a critical shortage for several years, and more are urgently needed.

"The three youth residences are full, and there are no plans to meet the shortage. The Minister must take responsibility for this crisis.

"At-risk youths will continue to be kept in unsatisfactory accommodation, or even left in the community where they can commit more crime, while they wait for a bed," says Mrs Tolley.

Chester Borrows, National's spokesman for Youth Justice, says there is also a severe bed shortage for youths with drug and alcohol dependancy issues.

"The public has an expectation that young people with drug addictions or other drug issues will have these problems addressed.

"Australian surveys show that 4.8% of 14-19-year-olds used drugs in the previous week, and that about 10% of drug users become dependant. New Zealand indications are the same.

"Drug rehab centres in Hamner Springs and Marton have been shut under this Labour Government, and this is impacting on the ability to address abuse early, speedily, and effectively.

"Drug and alcohol abuse goes hand in hand with youth offending, and to not provide rehabilitation opportunities is to do us all a disservice and to put young people at risk," Mr Borrows says.

ENDS

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