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Commissioner supports new youth justice facilities

22 November 2005

Children’s Commissioner supports new youth justice facilities

The Children’s Commissioner, Dr Cindy Kiro, supports the announcement of the proposed new youth facility, noting that community consultation is still going on.

“New Zealand has a problem with youth offending and this needs to be addressed. The apprehension of 14-16 year olds rose sharply in the early 1990s and numbers have remained relatively unchanged since. Provisional data indicates there were 33,994 police apprehensions of 14-16 year olds for non-traffic offences in 2003.

Too many young people end up in Police cells as a result of inadequate numbers of beds in suitable facilities. One way to address this problem is by providing more beds. We should also explore other options such as supervised bail for some of these young people as they would benefit more from this option.”

“Addressing these issues is a community responsibility. The Rotorua District Council has developed a Crime Prevention Plan that aims to address key areas including supporting initiatives that reduce youth offending,” Dr Kiro said.

“It is understandable that local residents would have concerns about the proposed site of the new facility. We know that most children who break the law have been abused and traumatised. These are children who need to be rehabilitated. We need more youth facilities and other options in order to do this. The proposed facility will provide regional services for young people from Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.”

Child, Youth and Family Minister, Ruth Dyson, announced yesterday that a site in Kaharoa near Rotorua has been selected for consideration for a new youth justice residential centre. The facility could provide specialised regional care for up to 32 young people who offend. However Ms Dyson indicated that before a decision was made community concerns would be identified and, if possible, addressed before a decision was made to proceed. Kaharoa residents have voiced their opposition to the proposed facility.

ENDS

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