The Government has announced it will introduce a ‘circuit-breaker’ response to address repeat offending by children and young people.
The move builds on the Government’s Better Pathways package, announced in September, which the Government says is already having an impact on offending. In August there were 75 ram raids, while as of 21 November this figure had dropped to 15 so far for the month.
“While the Youth Justice system can act as a circuit-breaker for young people aged 14 to 17, there is a small number of children aged 10-13 who continue to reoffend at a high rate,” said Minister for Children, Kelvin Davis.
“At the moment when Police make an arrest, children often end up placed back in the community with little support and few limitations on their behaviour until a more comprehensive plan is in place. This can lead to re-offending again before the process for the first offence even begins.”
The new response will mean when a child is identified or apprehended by Police for offending behaviour, information will be shared with Oranga Tamariki within 24 hours, with an agreed plan on how to deal with and support the young person confirmed in 48 hours.
“At the moment it can take weeks for a family group conference or court proceedings to take place. This change will mean an urgent plan is agreed to ensure a child is dealt with and getting any support they need immediately to help stop them offending again,” Mr Davis said.
Police Minister, Chris Hipkins said approaches like this work and are already used in various parts of the country, sometimes led by community organisations, and often in partnership with Police.
“I saw some of the great work being done during my visits to every Police district this year,” he said.
“By taking this approach, fast-tracking it and applying it to a small group of 10-13 year olds who are serious and persistent offenders, we can help address the recent spike in offending and continue to see the number of ram raids come down. Already we’ve seen a reduction of nearly 80% over the past three months.”
The Government says it will also expand the Better Pathways Kotahi te Whakaaro package to include 14-17 year olds in South and West Auckland.
“This programme alone is seeing promising results, so far providing 104 children and 197 of their siblings with the support they need. In South Auckland, of the young people referred after committing a ram raid or other vehicle offence, just 14% have reoffended,” said Social Development and Employment Minister, Carmel Sepuloni.
“In addition to that, we’re doubling down on our efforts and supporting locally-led solutions in Te Tai Tokerau, Tāmaki Makaurau, Bay of Plenty and Waikato. Support will be provided through regional public service leads to expand on or continue delivering services that are targeted at high needs children and young people, as well as those apprehended as a result of ram raids.
“The data shows that many of the children and young people who have engaged in offending behaviours are experiencing complex difficulties in their lives, including violence in the home and disengagement from education. This funding, alongside the expansion of Kotahi te Whakaaro, allows us to deal with and respond to the needs of children and young people who are doing the offending, as well as their families to help change the environment they are living in,” she said.