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Labour continues to fail too many of our youth

John Key MP
National Party Leader

1 October 2008

Labour continues to fail too many of our youth

The youth crime statistics prove again that the Labour Government is letting too many of our youth slip through the cracks, says National Party Leader John Key.

“Labour has failed to progress a lot of issues, but its failure to make headway on youth crime is one of the most distressing because these kids are our future and we are failing them.

“The numbers make very grim reading.

“Since 1999/2000, violence by 14- to 16-year-olds has increased by a staggering 52%.

“There were 5,029 violent offences committed by kids in that age group in 2007/08 compared to 3,301 in 1999/2000. And this year, those kids committed 4,831 property damage offences, an increase of 31%.

“And it’s not much better for the 10- to 13-year-olds. In one year, violent offences by these ‘babies’ – because that’s really what they are – increased by 16%.

“Just a day after Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft sounded a warning over the need to defuse these ‘human time-bombs’, as he called them, we get statistics that prove his point exactly.

“For nine long years, the Labour-led Government failed to act on the repeated warnings from those on the front line, but National won’t.

“We’ll give the youth justice system a modern set of tools for getting these youngsters out of the crime cycle.

“We will give the Youth Court the power to refer offenders to drug or alcohol rehab programmes, and introduce ‘Fresh Start Programmes’ for those who aren't bad enough to be put into a youth justice facility but who need a serious dose of intervention.

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

“These programmes will last up to one year and include up to three months of residential training at, for example, army facilities.

“They will address the problems underlying a young person's offending and may include drug and alcohol rehab, physical fitness training, literacy and numeracy teaching, and work towards NCEA credits, teamwork exercises, and reinforcement of community values.

“In its 2002 pledge card, Labour promised ‘more support for proven programmes to cut youth offending’, but youth crime has continued to spiral.

“National will not let our youth down.”

See National’s Youth Justice Policy: http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?ArticleId=28243


ENDS

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