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Key Labour youth crime programme fails

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

20 September 2006

Key Labour youth crime programme fails

One of Labour’s key youth crime prevention programmes has failed to reduce re-offending after three years and $12 million, according to an evaluation report obtained by National's Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power.

Corrections has since withdrawn from the Reducing Youth Offending Programme (RYOP), a pilot it ran with CYF, in which youths worked with social workers to understand what motivated their offending.

Two reports obtained by Mr Power have found that the programme has not reduced re-offending:

- An April 2005 interim report found that 72% of participants were prosecuted for offences that occurred after programme entry. By comparison, 65% of offenders in youth justice intakes in 2002 re-offended within 2 ½ years, and 68% of those prisoners under 20 released in 2002/03 re-offended within a year.
- There was 'no evidence that the RYOP group was re-offending at a lower rate' than a comparison group, and 'there is no credible evidence that the programme is yet achieving its goal of Reducing Youth Offending'.
- A final evaluation report completed in April this year confirmed the findings of the interim evaluation: 'With regard to re-offending, evaluations using three different methodologies all failed to show a significant, credible effect of participation in RYOP in terms of a reduction in the rate of seriousness of re-offending'.

Mr Power also cites a November 2005 Cabinet paper which states that it could not determine how effective the programme was in keeping 28% of offenders offence-free 'because the rate of re-offending for the comparison group was similar'.

"Incredibly, Ministers Damien O'Connor and Ruth Dyson sought funding for the programme to continue for a further three years beyond June 2006, despite the fact that it has clearly failed."

In May this year, CYF announced that it was continuing with the programme after Corrections withdrew, but would ‘re-focus’ it on younger and less serious offenders at a cost of a further $4.2 million over three years.

The Cabinet paper also reveals that the RYOP programme is 'a key component of the government's long term strategy to reduce imprisonment in the long term'.

“The Government continues to struggle with this, but the only honest way to cut the number of prisoners is to cut crime, and that should be the priority,” says Mr Power.

"That means shifting our thinking and our resources into crime prevention programmes that work."

ENDS

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