Boot camps for young offenders will be on the table if National is re-elected to government in September.
Justice Minister Amy Adams says a re-elected National government will continue its focus on keeping New Zealanders safe by cracking down on the most serious young offenders and holding negligent parents to account.
“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. However there remains a small group of around 150 young people who continue to commit large numbers of serious offences,” says Amy.
“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.
“We want New Zealanders to be safe in their homes, at work, and on the streets, so we will introduce a $60 million package over four years that will deal with the most violent and recidivist young offenders more seriously, to reduce reoffending.
“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.
“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 YSOs who commit serious subsequent offences to attend the Academy for one year. The Academy will support YSOs to address problems like addiction or a lack of literacy and numeracy skills, helping them lead better lives while keeping the public safe.
“Those who fail to complete their time at the Academy will serve a commensurate adult sentence of imprisonment instead.”
It is estimated that approximately 50 YSOs per year will be sent to the Junior Training Academy. $30 million over four years has been allocated to fund the YSO scheme.
Other changes under the YSO classification will include tightening bail requirements, increasing the use of electronic monitoring, and removing the ability for these most serious young offenders to be released early from any youth justice custodial sentences.
A new National government will also take further steps to help prevent less serious young offenders moving along the pathway to more serious crime.
“In many cases, young people who offend have few good role models or are given the freedom to commit crimes. 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,” says Amy.
“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.
“We will also introduce a contestable fund of $30 million over four years for community groups to support programmes to reduce offending, because we know local solutions are often the best, and we want to give smaller or rural communities the opportunity to take further action.
“National is proud to be the law and order party, that is committed to keeping New Zealanders safe, supporting victims, and addressing the drivers of crime.”