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Goff slams CYPFA and calls for law change

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Labour justice spokesperson Phil Goff is calling for a law change to allow Police to request secure custody for child offenders.

It follows a Gisborne home invasion by a 13 year-old offender who was supposed to be in the care of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Agency. The offender had previously committed 9 aggravated robberies in Wellington.

"The public has a right to expect that a habitual violent offender like this will be dealt with in a way that stops them from doing it again, regardless of their age. Instead this offender was simply packed off to another city where he promptly found new victims," Phil Goff said.

"If our justice system is incapable of protecting the community from an offender like this then something is seriously wrong. The authorities could have, and should have, placed the offender into secure custody long before he committed his ninth aggravated robbery.

"I think CYPFA owe the latest victims an explanation as to why he wasn't in secure care.

"Nobody will be impressed by CYPFA's handling of this offender. The Gisborne Police, who have to try to deal with the aftermath of his violence, weren't even warned that the offender was being sent to their patch.

"We need the Police to be able to apply directly for a court order to have offenders like this placed in secure social welfare custody. Currently that is a power that only the Director-General of Social Welfare has, under section 368 of the CYPFS Act.

"Clearly CYPFA has not used this power in this case, and I will be seeking an explanation from the Minister of Social Services Roger Sowry, as to why.

"Police need to be able to make the application for court ordered secure custody if they are dissatisfied with CYPFA action. They should have this power in the Family Court for child offenders, and the Youth Court for young offenders aged 14 to 16. Police are currently charged with making applications for care and protection orders, but what happens to the child after such an order is made is entirely up to the Director-General of Social Welfare.

"The Gisborne offender is subject to a care and protection order but his placement is clearly inappropriate. I think this case highlights inadequacies both in the application of current law and in the law itself," Phil Goff said.

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