“The Government cut Youth Aid budgets by $10m over the past year, and we’re seeing the tragic results with the current youth crime wave,” says ACT’s Police spokesperson Chris Baillie.

“Ram raids are now a daily occurrence and children as young as eight and nine are using methamphetamine.

“With many years experience as a Youth Aid Police Officer, I know well the positive impact intervention can have on troubled youth. There needs to be greater involvement in these kids’ lives by Youth Aid, before they commit more serious crimes.

“Sadly, Labour’s soft on crime approach that has seen gang violence erupt is now filtering down to youth offenders. Officers have told me that these offenders have no fear of consequence, and officers are hamstrung by their inability to give chase.

“Family centre operators in areas affected by the crimes have expressed concerns that there are not enough consequences for offenders. These kids can’t just get a slap on the wrist and be on their way to commit more crimes.

“That approach isn’t any good for the victims, and it isn’t any good for the kids who will carry on offending.

“I’ve personally seen young people heading down a dangerous path who have turned their life around after intervention from Youth Aid. The fact that police have highlighted that much of the current crimewave is being caused by re-offenders shows that not enough is being done to steer these kids away from a life of crime.

“We need to address these problems early and ensure Youth Aid officers still have the tools at their disposal to turn these kids’ lives around. Mollycoddling and wagging fingers won’t help anyone.

“For every crime committed there is a victim who deserves better, and when youth is involved, the stakes are even higher – we can’t sit by while young New Zealanders become criminals.”

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