8 Dec 2022

Govt brings in fast-track plan to deal with children who commit crimes

8:09 am on 8 December 2022
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Minister for Children Kelvin Davis said children aged 10 to 13 will have a plan and support put in place within 48 hours of being arrested. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The government is bringing in a programme to deal faster with children aged 10 to 13 who repeatedly commit serious crimes.

It will initially be rolled out Counties Manukau and Waitākere.

Younger children will now have a plan and support put in place within 48 hours of being arrested, Minister for Children Kelvin Davis said.

"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."

This could lead to reoffending before the process for the first offence began, he said. "At the moment it can take weeks for a family group conference or court proceedings to take place."

Children often ended up placed back in the community with little support and few limitations until a more comprehensive plan was in place, he said.

The fast-track intervention will see information shared with Oranga Tamariki within 24 hours of an arrest and a plan on how to deal with and support the young person confirmed in 48 hours.

It builds on the government's better pathways package announced in September.

The government is also expanding Kotahi te Whakaaro, the joint agency response to children under 14 involved in crime in South and West Auckland, to include 14- to 17-year-olds and those in Northland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and throughout Auckland

Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni said so far the programme had provided 104 children and 197 of their siblings with support.

"In South Auckland, of the young people referred after committing a ram raid or other vehicle offence, just 14 percent have reoffended," Carmel Sepuloni said.

The fatal stabbing of in Sandringham dairy worker Janak Patel last month reignited debate on how to combat crime and deal with offenders.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a new $4 million fund to support local council crime prevention programmes to be matched dollar-for-dollar with councils. A $4000 subsidy for small shops and dairies to install a fog cannon if they choose, "not just those who have been the victim of a crime", was also announced.

Applying the fast-track approach to 10-13 year olds who are serious and persistent offenders would address the recent spike in offending, Police Minister Chris Hipkins said.

The number of ram raids had dropped from a recent peak of 75 in August to 43 in October and 15 in the first three weeks of November, according to figures provided by the ministers.

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