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Justice crisis deserves better than personal abuse

Anne Tolley MP
National's Associate Welfare (CYF) Spokeswoman

26 October 2006

Youth Justice crisis deserves better than personal abuse

National Party Associate Welfare spokeswoman Anne Tolley is amazed that rather than face up to the realities of the critical shortage in youth justice beds Ruth Dyson has resorted to petty mud slinging.

"This Minister is supposed to be taking her responsibilities seriously. But instead of tackling the issues she has distributed a statement accusing me of being 'lazy' and 'misrepresenting' the facts.

"But at no point is she able to substantiate these petty, pathetic claims."

Ms Tolley says she challenges Ms Dyson to point to one error of fact in the statement issued by National earlier today.

"Attached to that statement were questions answered by the Minister's own department. Is she now claiming her officials are 'lazy' and have 'misrepresented' the facts?"

"Some 329 youths spent more than 24 hours in police cells in just the first six months of this year. Occupancy rates at all three Youth Residences have been running at 100% for 18 months. The crisis was well signalled.

"The Minister herself identified an urgent need for 20 extra beds in May. But even then she knew that would only be a stop-gap measure. "With violent youth crime soaring, CYF is yet again having to admit that the bed crisis means some teenagers are being forced to languish in police cells for more than a week."

Mrs Tolley says that's simply not good enough.

"The state has an ultimate responsibility to provide a safe place for these teens to sleep, where the process of assessment and rehabilitation can start.

"Will this Minister take responsibility if a troubled teen dies in a holding cell?"

Ends

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