$60m to help fight youth crime

The Government has developed a $60 million package for further prevention of youth crime and said it will get tougher on “negligent parents”.

National’s spokeswoman for Justice Amy Adams announced the package will include $30 million for a junior training academy for young serious offenders and $30 million for community groups and support programmes to reduce offending over the next four years.

“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,” she said.

“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 YSO’s who commit serious subsequent offences to attend the academy for one year.

It is estimated that approximately 50 YSOs per year will be sent to the academy with those who fail to complete it receiving an adult sentence of imprisonment instead.

They are also cracking down on parents.

“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.

“In addition, any breaches of court orders directed at a young person’s parent will be recorded on that parent’s criminal record. A loophole means this is not the case currently.

Other changes under the YSO classification will include tightening bail requirements, increasing the use of electronic monitoring and removing the ability for the most serious young offenders to be released early from any youth justice custodial sentences.

“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,” Ms Adams said.

“However, there remains a small group of around 150 young people who continue to commit large numbers of serious offences.

“These are young people who have been in and out of Youth Court but have shown no willingness or ability to change their behaviour.

“We are not prepared to just sit back and allow their victims to keep racking up until they reach adulthood.