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Military training proven not to work – Goff

29 January 2008 Media Statement

Military training proven not to work for young offenders – Goff

The Limited Service Volunteer programme run by the New Zealand Defence Force has an excellent track record in improving the prospects for long-term unemployed youth, Defence Minister Phil Goff said today.

But using military training for dealing with serious young offenders has proven totally ineffectual in New Zealand and internationally, Mr Goff said.

He was commenting on a speech by John Key which suggests using the Defence Force to discipline young offenders.

“The Limited Service Volunteer programme has produced great results in helping long-term unemployed young people, who volunteer for the course, by providing intensive motivational training in a disciplined environment.

“Around 85 per cent of those attending the programme go into full time work or further training.

“The course provides places for people who are referred by the Ministry of Social Development.

“With the dramatic fall in unemployment for 18-24 year-olds, from 40,877 in December 2001 to 5133 in December 2007 (down 87 per cent), there has been some fall off in demand for the course. But over 430 attended last year,” Mr Goff said.

“However the course quite deliberately is not aimed at young people with serious offending records.

“International evidence demonstrates that military style courses at best have no impact on reducing offending and at worst increase offending rates.

“In New Zealand, boot camps run under Corrective Training had a reoffending rate of 92 per cent. Consequently they were abolished when Labour came into office.

“The New Zealand Defence Force is strongly opposed to changing the nature of the successful Limited Services Volunteer course to include youth offenders.

“They advise me that the Army does not have the necessary and relevant skills for changing the behaviour of young offenders. Placing offenders on the course would create serious problems and risk detracting from the nature and success of the LSV programme.

“The Defence Force is also adamant that its focus must be on training highly professional and technologically skilled personnel for service in serious and dangerous international deployments. Making the Defence Force a dumping ground for offenders is not consistent with that objective,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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