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Doing Nothing Is Not An Option

19 July 2007

Doing Nothing Is Not An Option

New Zealand First law and order spokesman Ron Mark has today hit back at critics of his Young Offenders (Serious Crimes) Bill.

“Critics are fudging the issue and overlooking the purpose of the bill – to address the problems of serious and repeat youth offending,” said Mr Mark.

“Claims that the bill will increase the number of young criminals are mischievous - the young offenders targeted by this bill are already repeat and serious lawbreakers through their actions, but are not viewed as such while hidden under the cloak of the current youth justice system.

“These are not poor little children we are talking about, but serious repeat offenders, some of whom have had the chance of multiple Family Group Conferences or have appeared 20 or more times in the Youth Court.

“The bill won’t make more young people into criminals – it will merely show up the recidivists as the criminals they already are,’ said Mr Mark.

“By any measure one looks at, repeat youth offending is up. The number of repeat Family Group Conferences and multiple Youth Court appearances are significantly up, and youth are appearing more often for more serious crimes - shown quite clearly in the statistics obtained from the Ministers of Courts and Child, Youth and Family recently.

“The current youth justice system is not working to reduce repeat and serious offending, and all the while those with vested interests within the system ignore its failings and continue to applaud it as a ‘flagship’ and ‘world leading’ system.

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“The bill is about giving police the tools to deal with serious repeat offenders. The police want the age of prosecution reduced, as do the Police Association.

“It is about intervention early in the age of the offender and the stage of the offending.

“Had people listened to the 2002 call from the head of the Police Youth Aid Section for the age of prosecution to be lowered following the murder of Ken Piggott, 13-yr-old Raymond Kara, involved in the murder but unable to be charged due to his age, would probably not have gone on to take part in the baseball bat killing of another innocent stranger just three years later.

“I have a bulging file of similar cases, so to those who tell me that the youth justice system is working I would say: ask the victims, so often trampled underfoot in the rush to look after the offender.

“The debate on this bill is providing an opportunity to save our kids from entering a life of crime,’ concluded Mr Mark.


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