23 Sep 2014

Drop in youth crime numbers

7:39 pm on 23 September 2014

The number of children and teenagers charged with a crime has dropped 17 percent to 2268 - the lowest level in 21 years, statistics released today show.

The Statistics New Zealand figures showed the numbers fell in nearly all offence categories, including violent crimes.

Three young people were charged with homicide, the lowest figure since 1993.

Nearly half of all charges were for robbery, burglary and theft offences, although those charges also fell by 11 percent.

Of the 1800 young people who had charges against them proved, 159 were convicted and sentenced in an adult court and 30 were given prison sentences.

The number of young Maori being charged declined by 16 percent but still accounted for more than half of young people charged.

JustSpeak co-chair Julia Amua Whaipoti told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme she was not surprised by the drop.

"I actually have to applaud the changing culture from police. There is a drive both fiscally, I think, and socially to keep youth out of the criminal justice system. And there is a big emphasis on diverting youth before having to get them to the court stage."