Youth Crime IS NOT down and Youth Justice IS NOT working
11th May 2018
Recent statistics showed youth crime had decreased, with the government praising the Youth Justice system for the new low in youth crime.
Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST) have always argued the statistics are based only on the cases that get put through the youth court. The SST believes a significant number of youth crime is not recorded, as it gets referred to a Family Group Conference or handed over to Police Youth Aid.
Recently social media findings have shown there are a large group of youths on a crime wave, bragging about the violent crimes they are committing; including robberies and ram raids. They are even competing against each other on these crime frenzies.
Sensible Sentencing Trust Youth Advocate Jess McVicar says "This just firms up what we have been saying all along. We have always said the statistics are not based on actual crimes being committed, as only a percentage of cases actually go through the Youth Court.
Any case that is referred to a Family Group Conference does not actually get recorded as the offender is not charged. Most youth offenders or ‘young people’ who get into trouble with the law, are dealt with by Police and do not go to the Youth Court. This could mean they get a Police warning or are referred to Police Youth Aid for what is called ‘Alternative Action’.”
Jess went on to say “These gangs recruit members, aged 15 and up, while serving time in youth justice facilities or prison, so how does that show that Youth Justice is working? To me it just shows that these offenders are giving the Law and the Justice system two fingers. They show utter contempt for the system.”
A youth, who claimed he had spent time in the Palmerston North youth justice facility Te Au Rere a te Tonga and three months in Rimutaka Prison for aggravated robbery, said there were several ways people joined the gang, with most members recruited while inside a youth justice facility or prison.
Oranga Tamariki Youth Justice residences General Manager Ben Hannifin declined to comment on one of the youth gangs We Strait Aych (WSH) recruiting members while in Youth Justice facilities, citing security and privacy concerns as reported by Stuff journalist Sam Sherwood.
Jess says “It just confirms for me that the Youth Justice system is simply not working and they do not know how to handle the youth and the crimes they are committing. They don’t seem to know where half of the youth offenders are, yet they honestly believe that crime is down because that is what their statistics show!"
Ben Hannifin was also noted as saying the Youth Justice residences had a high turnover with young people coming and going every day. Jess says “surely that is of major concern and should be alerting the Youth Justice system to the magnitude of the problem? If the Manager of the residence says there is a high turnover of youth offenders daily, doesn’t that show that youth crime is on a rise?”
Sensible Sentencing Trust says they received statistics on Youth Offending last year and the results were a concern; nearly 70% of youth offenders do not set foot in a court, 70 % of youth court result in re-offending, 95% of youth offenders do not require care and protection - yet care and protection is the only grounds the youth offender system can intervene under. Nearly 60% of youth offenders go on to re-offend after diversion, 40% of youth offenders have offended 3 or more times.
So, are youth offenders under control, or are the government trying to hide a problem they do not know how to deal with?
Jess commented “The SST support the Youth Employment Training and Education Initiatives Bill (YETI Bill). Youth need to be taught the ABCD’s, that is accountability, boundaries, consequences and discipline. They need to learn respect; they also need to be taught life skills, so they can go and get a job and earn money instead of committing a crime to get it.”