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Assessment centre means fewer young people behind bars

Assessment centre means fewer young people behind bars

A new, multi-agency assessment centre for young people held in custody because of their offending will ensure the best possible response to young offenders, says Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows.

“We have no choice but to remove some young people from the community due to their offending, but it can only ever be a last resort,” says Mr Borrows.

“The new assessment centre will let Child Youth and Family give the Court the best possible information on which young people need to stay in custody, and which can be safely and effectively rehabilitated in the community.”

The centre, based at Child, Youth and Family’s Auckland youth justice residence, Korowai Manaaki, brings together health, education and work placement staff, along with social workers. They work as a team to complete a comprehensive assessment within ten days of the young person coming into the residence.

The assessment identifies the young person’s risk and protective factors more efficiently.

“Rarely does youth offending happen in isolation. Most of these kids have addiction problems, they might be experiencing violence at home, or have health or education needs that no one’s picked up.

“We know that keeping young people closely connected to all the positive influences in their life – mentors, whānau, work and community-based supports – helps get them on the right track.

“That’s why we want community-based options to be the first port of call for these young people. Whenever appropriate, supported bail or electronic monitoring will be used, so they can return to their community with a support plan that keeps everyone safe.

“This won’t be possible in every case – assessment will inevitably show that for some, staying in residence for a while is the best decision.

The new assessment centre is part of the Youth Crime Action Plan’s aim to reduce the length of time young people spend in residences. The trial, which began on 1 April this year, is used for every young person coming into a youth justice residence in the Auckland region. The trial will be rolled out to other youth justice residences in coming months.

Ends

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