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“Human timebombs” need defusing

John Key MP
National Party Leader

30 September 2008

“Human timebombs” need defusing

National Party Leader John Key is welcoming the wake-up call delivered by Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft who has stressed the importance of defusing young "human timebombs" before they explode.

“When I announced National’s Youth Plan in January this year, I was clear that a National-led Government would confront this problem and tackle ‘the ticking timebombs’.”

Judge Becroft has previously said there is a group of about 1,000 serious, persistent young offenders and the system knows who they are.

“For nine long years, the Labour Government has failed to act on the repeated warnings from those on the front line like Judge Becroft. National has been listening.”

Mr Key says National will provide the youth justice system with a modern set of tools for getting young people out of the crime cycle.

“We must give the Youth Court the power to refer young offenders to compulsory drug or alcohol rehabilitation programmes, and support new initiatives for teenagers who aren't bad enough to be put in a youth justice facility but who need a serious dose of intervention.

“The 'supervision with activity' sentence is already available for these kids. It's hardly ever used, however, because though there are some very good programmes that work, there are far too few of them.

“National will also back a new range of revolutionary 'Fresh Start Programmes'.

“They will be designed to give young offenders what they need to make a fresh start – structure, routine, clear boundaries, intensive support, and a sense of self-discipline and personal responsibility.

“The programmes will last up to one year and will include up to three months of residential training at, for example, army facilities. Young people sentenced to Fresh Start Programmes will be intensively supervised by high-quality staff dedicated to getting them back on track.

“Fresh Start Programmes will be designed to address the problems underlying a young person's offending and may include, for example, drug and alcohol rehab, outdoor and physical fitness training, literacy and numeracy teaching, and work towards NCEA credits, teamwork exercises, and reinforcement of community values.

“Young people, more than anyone, will determine the future shape and prosperity of New Zealand. We must not let them down.”

ENDS

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