Lack of consequences leading to ‘tsunami’ of youth crime, says National

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The National Party says the lack of consequences for young offenders is causing a “tsunami” of youth crime.

National Party Police spokesman Mark Mitchell said the criminal justice system must be able to respond to the lack of consequences for young offenders.
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The party said it was appalled to see prosecutions of young offenders declining at a time when youth crime appeared to be on the rise.

National Police spokesman Mark Mitchell said morning report the youth justice system needed to implement a full range of tools to stop recidivism.

“There is no doubt that youth crime is on the rise,” he said.

Mitchell said he recently spoke with a school principal in Christchurch who was dealing with increased school absenteeism and other issues among primary school-aged children.

“He said the way to deal with that – especially with young men – is to have positive male role models in their lives and that’s a big driver and part of the problem.”

Mitchell said investing in supporting young people is needed to keep them out of trouble in the first place.

Organizations like Warkworth-based Springboard, which provided support and male role models for “young men” whose lives are “starting to slip” helped address some of these issues, Mitchell said, and the government also had a role to play to play.

He was unable to say whether youth crime in Warkworth had decreased.

“Certainly [Springboard have] was responsible for ensuring that there was no increase – or even a greater increase – in youth crime. »

Mitchell said the criminal justice system needed to be able to respond to the lack of consequences for young offenders which had led to “a tsunami of juvenile delinquency”.

“Having the same moral compass and values ​​that we had when we grew up is just as relevant today as it was 30 or 40 years ago.”

Mitchell said the government should do more to stop recidivism, using National MP Sam Uffindell as an example of someone who had “transformed his life”.

“There were consequences for [Uffindell’s behaviour]; he was asked to leave the school where he was, so he had to deal with the consequences, and then he had to turn his life around and decide he wasn’t going to engage in that kind of behavior,” Mitchell said.

“Had he continued to engage in this type of behavior, if he had decided to start participating in ram raids and if he had become a repeat violent offender, he would have suffered serious consequences in our criminal justice system. , but he didn’t, he changed his life.”

But Carly Laughton, a youth worker in Auckland, said she thought the current focus on juvenile delinquency had been ‘brought to the fore by the media’ and was ‘naive’ on the part of of National to think that the interventions did not already exist.

“I think it’s really a relatively naive opinion, the fact that they think there aren’t interventions already in place,” she said. morning report.

“We’re really lucky to have some really amazing police aides in Auckland in particular and the programs they run, they really work for young people,” she said.

“I’ve seen young people really transform their lives with the focused attention of the teams that they have in these spaces.”

Laughton said the fact that some of the young offenders who have made recent headlines were as young as 9 or 10 years old showed the need for a “Whānau Ora approach”.

“It really shows that this is a deep-rooted problem,” she said.


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