The next phase of the Government’s response to youth crime is underway, with an intensive programme for the country’s most prolific young offenders launched today in Auckland, Minister for Children Kelvin Davis said.
The programme, announced by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins in July, will see up to 60 recidivist young offenders and their families assigned an intensive support social worker to develop an immediate plan for the young person and provide ongoing support.
That plan will be specifically tailored to the needs of the child and their family and could include mentoring, alcohol/drug treatment, support to navigate and access the housing and education systems, mental health support, and cultural support.
“The public deserve to feel safe and our work in this area is designed to prevent further victimization by getting in early and breaking the cycle for a young offender,” Kelvin Davis said.
“What has become clear is that there is a very small group of young offenders whose age and complex underlying issues means they are falling through the cracks despite best efforts.”
“This initiative will provide the intensive social work needed, backed up by a local coordination team, whānau, and the community, to ensure the child gets the support they need immediately to help stop them reoffending again,” Kelvin Davis said.
Police Minister Ginny Andersen said that while the existing turnaround programmes were working well, more needs to be done for a small group of repeat offenders.
“That’s why we’re rolling out a more intensive version of the successful ‘Circuit Breaker’ fast track programme.”
Circuit Breaker has been successfully rolled out in four locations and has seen 77 per cent of children not re-offending.
This is in stark contrast to National’s failed boot camp experiment, which saw 80% of young people reoffended after they completed the programme.
“National’s own chief science advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman said that “Boot camps do not work, and ‘scared straight’ programmes have been shown to increase crime.” Ginny Anderson said.
Under the Circuit Breaker programme, when a child offends their information is immediately shared by Police with Oranga Tamariki and an agreed plan on how to deal with and support the young person confirmed in 48 hours in collaboration with community groups.
Currently operating in South and West Auckland, Auckland City, Hamilton, and Christchurch, it will soon expand to four new locations.
“We know that these turnaround programmes work – and we’re committed to ensuring that young offenders get the opportunity to get back onto the straight and narrow,” Ginny Andersen said.
It follows a number of initiatives already taken by the Government to respond to youth crime, including a new offence specifically targeting ram raiding, a new aggravating factor for an adult to use young people to commit a crime, an aggravated sentence for posting crimes online and requiring young offenders to attend education programmes or do community activities.