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Govt turns its back while youth crime skyrockets

2000 web siteRoger Sowry may try to duck responsibility but the massive growth in youth offending during the term of this Government, and its failed social policies, cannot just be palmed off to parents, says Labour police spokesperson George Hawkins.

George Hawkins' comments followed Roger Sowry, Minister of Social Services, Work and Income, telling a conference audience that parents should "get off the sofa" and "start taking responsibility".

"Figures released to me in response to written questions I asked of the Minister of Police, show that youth offending has risen from 26,826 offences in 1990 to more than forty-thousand in 1998. That's a 51 per cent increase in just 8 years," Mr Hawkins said.

"One of the largest increases in youth offending occurred in 1991 - the year of Mrs Shipley's massive benefit cuts.

"Furthermore, as Roger Sowry admits, there is alarming growth in serious youth crime. Not only is the amount of crime being committed going up, but also the sorts of crimes being committed are getting more serious. The number of Youth Court prosecutions has risen from 1315 in 1990, to 4835 in 1998 - a 268 per cent increase.

"These figures are a damning indictment on the National Government's inaction and failed social policies.

"For almost nine long years, this Government has done nothing but contribute to rising youth crime through market rents, benefit cuts, dismantling public services, and generally robbing youth from disadvantaged backgrounds of any real future. Their response to youth crime has been equally shameful: squeezing CYPFA and Police funding to the point where those agencies can't do their job properly; dithering for years on building decent secure youth facilities, and locking kids up in Mt Eden or sending them to live with convicted gang members.

"Jenny Shipley has no doubt asked Roger Sowry to defend this indefensible record now that it's election year. But relying on the National Party's usual excuse that it's everybody's fault but their own, just doesn't cut it," Mr Hawkins said.

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