Children’s Minister, Kelvin Davis, today launched the youth crime ‘Circuit Breaker’ fast track programme in two new locations.
Minister Davis said the programme, which was first piloted in West and South Auckland in December last year, is aimed at children aged 10-13 who commit serious offending or continue to reoffend at a high rate and need a more intensive, wrap-around approach.
“Public safety is always a top priority and while youth offending has been trending down for some time, we know there is a very small group of young offenders whose age and complex underlying issues mean they are falling through the cracks,” he said.
“We have seen fantastic results from the fast track programme where it has been rolled out and the key is agencies such as Police and Oranga Tamariki working in collaboration with the community.”
Now underway in three other regions – Auckland Central, Hamilton, and Christchurch – the programme will now be offered in Whangārei and Rotorua.
It sees Police immediately share a child’s information with Oranga Tamariki within 24 hours after they offend, with an agreed plan in place on how to deal with and support the young person within 48 hours.
To date, 252 young offenders have been through the programme with 80% not re-offending.
Today’s milestone comes after the launch earlier this month of an intensive version of the fast track programme designed to support up to 60 children for whom even the standard programme is not enough, the Minister said.
It will involve wider, longer support programmes and will see an intensive support social worker assigned to the child and their family.
Police Minister, Ginny Andersen said the spike in youth crime needed to be taken seriously and the Government was focused on initiatives that worked.
“We’re interested in evidence-based policy when it comes to getting young people back on the straight and narrow. The results of Circuit Breaker to date show that this programme works. This programme breaks the cycle of offending,” she said.
“Ram raids are currently at their lowest in two years. They’ve dropped down to 35 for the month of August, following a trend downwards of 42 in July and 50 in June. We will continue to do what works so we can get on top of this type of offending and keep our communities safe.
“This is in stark contrast to National’s failed boot camp experiment, which saw 80% of young people reoffend after they completed the programme.”
It follows a number of initiatives already taken by the Government to respond to youth crime, including a new offence specifically targeting ram raiding, a new aggravating factor for an adult to use young people to commit a crime, an aggravated sentence for posting crimes online and requiring young offenders to attend education programmes or do community activities.
Following the launch in Whangārei and Rotorua, work is underway to assess the suitability of Lower Hutt and Dunedin as the next fast track locations.