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Government still absent on truancy plan

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

2 August 2006

Government still absent on truancy plan

The Government’s lack of a nationwide action plan on school truancy has been exposed again by a successful locally run operation in Christchurch, says National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power.

He is commenting on an operation by police, Truancy Service staff, and city council youth workers, which netted 73 repeat truants yesterday.

“It is disgraceful that this Government is showing absolutely no national leadership on this issue.

“After seven long years Labour have no national plan for truancy. They have been promising a national truancy register for three elections but nothing has happened.

“They have admitted that they don’t even keep statistics on the number of truancy operations or the number of truants apprehended.

“It is widely acknowledged that there is a direct link between young people failing to attend school and crime, but Labour has no idea how many children are missing out on their best chance to escape a criminal life.

“Police involved in the Christchurch operation see the link very clearly, saying: ‘Police statistics show that youths who are apprehended figure disproportionately high in crime figures, especially in burglary, car crime and dishonesty offending.’

“And Chief Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft describes education as our ultimate crime-fighting tool. That is hardly surprising when you realise that 52% of prisoners have no qualifications.

“This Government is failing to stop crime at its roots. It shows so much interest that its Youth Policing Strategy document mentions truancy only once.

“If we want to stop young people on a trajectory towards a life of crime, we must catch them before they deny themselves a choice. That means keeping them in school.

“Individual police regions must be congratulated on tackling this problem head-on by themselves.

“They know there is a problem – it’s a pity Police Minister Annette King doesn’t.”

ENDS

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