Another U-Turn By National On Youth Crime

14 August 2017

National has done another U-turn – this time on boot camps for youth, says New Zealand First.

“For nine years National has said there is no problem with youth justice,” says Social Development and Youth Affairs Spokesperson Darroch Ball.

“New Zealand First is the only party that has consistently identified the problem but National has refused to listen.

“Prime Minister Bill English said 20 of the worst youth offenders had committed 800 serious offences. But National has repeatedly claimed a dramatic reduction in youth offending.

“Both Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Justice Minister Amy Adams have repeatedly referred to New Zealand’s youth justice system as ‘world-leading’ and ‘world-class’. It can hardly be either of those things by National’s own reckoning if they have finally admitted it is failing to stop high-level, highly recidivist young offenders.

“Clearly this is merely a reactive policy from National and they’re just chasing votes from dairy owners five weeks out from an election after years of inaction and denials.

“What makes National think this will work when they haven’t even acknowledged the youth justice system needs fixing or identified which parts of it aren’t working and need to be addressed.

“Youth offenders committing serious crimes are getting younger  and committing more serious crimes because the youth justice system lets them get away with it.

“There has been a 15 per cent increase in serious crimes by 15-19 year olds with a 40 per cent increase in robberies alone. This equates to teens committing almost half of all robberies in New Zealand.

“National has ignored the issue for almost a decade and it shows by their response. A boot camp for offenders is pointless if the justice system doesn’t hold young offenders to account.

“New Zealand First has proposed a radical overhaul of the youth justice system in a new member’s bill, the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Youth Justice Demerit Points) Amendment Bill, which will introduce a demerit points system for youth offenders.

“Additionally, our Youth Employment, Training and Education scheme aims to help disengaged youth by giving them Army-run paid trade training and improving their literacy and numeracy so they are work-ready by the age of 18,” says Mr Ball.