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Strong govt support for S Akld community on gangs

Hon David Benson-Pope, MP
Minister for Social Development and Employment
Member of Parliament for Dunedin South

31 October 2005 Media Statement
Strong government support for South Auckland community on youth gangs

The government is providing financial and management support to South Auckland communities to tackle the issue of youth gangs.

In addition, the Ministry of Social Development will be undertaking research aimed at better understanding why young people are forming and joining gangs.

Social Development and Employment Minister David Benson-Pope announced that the Ministry of Social Development would be taking a leading role in helping resolve the increase in serious violence in Manakau associated with youth gangs.

"The communities of South Auckland are key in resolving violence amongst their young people,” said Mr Benson-Pope. "They have asked for our support and we are committed to working closely with local leaders and ensuring they have the resources and support necessary to get their young people back on track."

A Youth Support Project Co-ordinator will be funded to work for the Mangere East Family Service Centre. The Co-ordinator will establish and manage the Youth Support Network Project, ensuring key community groups and government agencies are linked in to provide practical and responsive services to young people.

A group including the CEO of Manukau City Council, the District Police Commander, representatives from the Ministries of Social Development, Youth Development, Education, CYF and Counties Manukau District Health Board will support the Family Centre and oversee a plan of action and the work programme of the co-ordinator.

Mr Benson-Pope says that while statistics from the Police and Ministry of Justice show youth crime declined in the last year there had been a small increase in very serious violent offences, which was a concern.

The Ministry of Social Development will research the nature and extent of youth gangs and their connection to violent crime. The research will be completed early next year.

“The issues behind youth gang culture and youth violence and crime are complex," said Mr Benson-Pope. "It is important that we understand its drivers. With 39 percent of the population under the age of 25 years, South Auckland is a good place to begin seeking answers."


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