30 Aug 2012

Increased Family Court powers recommended

6:33 pm on 30 August 2012

A report into how the justice system deals with children who commit offences recommends earlier intervention for at risk-children and giving greater powers to the Family Court.

The Social Services select committee has reported back to Parliament on its inquiry into the identification, rehabilitation and care and protection of child offenders.

Committee chair Sam Lotu-Iiga says the report makes 31 recommendations designed to change Government responses to child offenders aged between 10 and 14.

Mr Lotu-Iiga told Parliament on Thursday that, at present, those responses are too focused on what works for agencies, instead of what works for children and their families.

"This, I believe, is a conversation our community needs to have, it needs to address - and this report is certainly a step in the right direction."

Labour Party MP Jacinda Ardern told MPs the inquiry found that there should be earlier intervention for at-risk children.

"We have in this country 1200 social workers. By default, they are dealing with the most serious end of care and protection issues.

"We do need a system which responds as early as possible to the needs of our most vulnerable children before they enter into our criminal justice system."

The recommendations include giving greater powers to the Family Courts to make supervision orders and forcing parents to attend hearings involving their children.

The Government will respond to the report by 12 September.