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Labour continues to fail youth offenders

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

6 March 2008

Labour continues to fail youth offenders

The Labour Government has failed in its promise to provide more support for programmes to cut youth offending, says National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

"How else can you interpret their dismal failure to deliver on the Health and Education Assessments Programme for first-time offenders?"

The programme provides health and education assessments for youth offenders prior to family group conferences.

"In 2006/07, this programme was funded for assessments on 1,550 youth offenders, but only 41% were completed.

"They knew in 2004/05 that this pilot programme was struggling, but instead of going to the root of the problem and providing more support in the community, they rolled it out nationwide and increased the number of assessments funded - from 500, to 1,000, to 1,550.

"There have been serious flaws in the implementation from day 1. An evaluation report of the pilot, dated November 2005, found a litany of problems in the process, besides the low take-up of assessments, including:

* Family group conferences having to be delayed or repeated because referrals for assessments were being initiated at conferences instead of before them. * Not enough qualified people available to undertake the assessments. * Only one third of recommendations being fully reflected in FGC plans. * Confusion among agencies as to whose responsibility it was to fund recommendations from the assessments (e.g. alternative education, counselling). * A lack of appropriate services in the community to follow through on the recommendations.

"On its 2002 pledge card, Labour promised 'more support for proven programmes to cut youth offending', but since then violent youth crime has spiralled almost out of control.

"One of Labour's other key youth crime prevention programmes, the Reducing Youth Offending Programme (RYOP), has failed to reduce re-offending after three years and $12 million.

"Social Development Minister Ruth Dyson might like to explain why Labour has not done more to tackle this very concerning trend."

ENDS


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