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Child, Youth And Family Apologies Over Rape Case

Child, Youth and Family says it deeply regrets not following proper procedure before it placed a 14-year-old Wellington youth with a gang member.

The placement was made as a last resort after social workers had extreme difficulty finding the boy a place to stay. The boy had been found wandering the streets.

The gang member, a relative of the boy, had previously shown a willingness to help, indicating he did not want the boy to go down the same track as him. The man disclosed he had convictions for some less serious offences. An initial emergency overnight placement went ahead on that basis, as this was considered preferable to leaving the boy on the streets.

Although it was never intended that the man would be a long-term caregiver, a number of subsequent short-term placements with him followed while other options were explored.

However, prior to the initial placement, Child, Youth and Family staff failed to ensure a full police check on the man was done, as is proper procedure.

"If that check had been done, the full offending history of the man would have come to light and the placements would not have gone ahead," says chief social worker Mike Doolan.

"We are very sorry the victim was attacked by the boy in these circumstances." Mr Doolan says the department does not want to make any excuses for the failure to do the police check.

"But it's also important to say that we put extensive resources into helping this sometimes very difficult boy over the years. Immediately before resorting to the placement with this relative, staff had genuinely gone to great lengths to find a suitable place for the boy to stay.

"I am very disappointed that this excellent work did not extend to carrying out the proper police check," says Mr Doolan. "Placements with gang-affiliated people are rare and should only proceed when we are fully satisfied on the safety front. This case has been a painful lesson in the need to maintain the utmost vigilance when considering such a placement."

ENDS....

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