A re-elected National Government will continue its focus on keeping New Zealanders safe by cracking down on the most serious young offenders and holding negligent parents to account.
“Our youth justice system works well for the vast majority of young offenders and our relentless focus on reducing crime has seen the youth crime rate drop 31 per cent. However there remains a small group of around 150 young people who continue to commit large numbers of serious offences,” National’s Justice Spokesperson Amy Adams says.
A small number of persistent offenders can be responsible for a large proportion of the crime rate.
“We want New Zealanders to be safe in their homes, at work, and on the streets, so we will introduce a $60 million package over four years that will deal with the most violent and recidivist young offenders more seriously, to reduce reoffending.
“We will introduce a Young Serious Offender (YSO) classification which will see this very small group of the most hardened young offenders dealt with in ways that better reflect the seriousness of their crimes and help ensure fewer people are victimised.
So this isn’t for most youth offenders, for whom the current system is relatively sucessful. It is for the hard core recividist.
“As a part of this, we will establish a defence-led Junior Training Academy based at the Waiouru Training Camp. Judges will be able to order YSOs who commit serious subsequent offences to attend the Academy for one year. The Academy will support YSOs to address problems like addiction or a lack of literacy and numeracy skills, helping them lead better lives while keeping the public safe.
“Those who fail to complete their time at the Academy will serve a commensurate adult sentence of imprisonment instead.”
It is estimated that approximately 50 YSOs per year will be sent to the Junior Training Academy. $30 million over four years has been allocated to fund the YSO scheme.
Not guaranteed to work, but better than just having them in prison or at large committing more crimes.
A new National Government will also take further steps to help prevent less serious young offenders moving along the pathway to more serious crime.
“In many cases, young people who offend have few good role models or are given the freedom to commit crimes. We will make changes to hold their parents to account, including by allowing Police to issue instant infringement notices to parents of children under 14 walking the streets without supervision between 12am and 5am,” Ms Adams says.
The full policy is here.