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Labour’s youth crime strategy collapses

Chester Borrows MP
National Party Police Spokesman

Anne Tolley MP National Party Associate Welfare (CYF) Spokeswoman

15 January 2007

Labour’s youth crime strategy collapses

The Labour Government’s pledge to ‘crack down’ on youth crime is collapsing around it, says National’s Police spokesman, Chester Borrows.

He is commenting after a Justice Ministry report found serious flaws in the youth offending team system, including:

‘A lack of shared understanding about the purpose and role of YOTs’, and ‘a lack of clarity about how aims should be achieved’. ‘Confusion about what the relationship between YOTs and community organisations should be.’ Only 16% of YOT members attended every meeting, 60% said they attended most meetings, and 24% attended half or less.

“The system is something of a shambles. Even Justice Minister Annette King admitted as much.

“The whole idea of the YOTs was to tackle crime by getting the four youth offender agencies – Police, CYF, Education, and Health – to co-ordinate at a local level, but that has not happened.

“And, surprise, surprise, serious youth crime, rather than dropping, is on the increase – violence by 47%, sexual offences by 28%, and property damage by 13%.”

National’s Associate Welfare (CYF) spokeswoman, Anne Tolley, says the report on YOTs is the latest in a series of failures by Labour on youth crime.

“In 2006, their Reducing Youth Offending Programme, a pilot it ran with CYF and Corrections in which youths worked with social workers to understand what motivated their offending, collapsed after offending rates had not reduced after three years.

“The Ministers Group on the Youth Offending Strategy failed to meet for three years, and there is still no national truancy register after Labour promised it in 1999 and 2002.

“Labour’s plan to raise the minimum age for offenders to be dealt with in adult courts from age 17 to 18 would simply add to the problem by putting older offenders into a system already bursting at the seams.

”This is another bad idea. The youth justice system will not be able to cope, and Labour has known this for years.”

Mr Borrows says: “Labour is not delivering safer communities. On her 1999 election pledge card, Helen Clark promised to ‘crack down … on youth crime’, and on her 2002 pledge card she said she would provide 'More support for proven programmes to cut youth offending'. She’s failed dismally.

“Labour’s approach to youth offending, like so many other law and order issues, has been left to drift for nine long years.”


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