Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development
A Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) investment to help young ex-offenders get a driver’s licence has exceeded expectations in Northland, with 338 people getting licences, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says.
The New Zealand Howard League for Penal Reform received $7.5 million from the PGF in mid-2018 to expand its driver’s licence programme in targeted regions, including Northland.
“Five hundred and sixty-two licences, across a number of license classes, were given to 338 ex-offenders in the past year – an exceptional figure given the target for the year was only 200 licenses. Sixty-nine per cent of the 338 who passed identified themselves as Māori, and on top of that the Department of Corrections has placed 120 of the 338 people into employment,” Shane Jones said.
“As most entry level jobs require a driver’s licence, this will improve the employment prospects of participants significantly. The Howard League is providing ex-offenders a second chance to get them back on the straight and narrow.
“A driver’s licence also provides ex-offenders with identification for situations such as signing up for a rental property or a bank account, and other important steps for reintegration back into society.
“This good news ticks a number of boxes for the Coalition Government. The regions are a safer and more prosperous place with fewer unlicensed drivers and more young people able to benefit from the economic opportunities being created under this Government,” Shane Jones said.
The Howard League for Penal Reform is a registered charity that aims to reduce re-offending by educating prisoners and providing driver’s licence programmes for offenders.