“It is past time for a change of attitude on youth crime. ACT's upcoming Real Change Alternative Budget will invest in youth justice facilities run by Corrections so youth offenders are held accountable for their actions,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The current system doesn’t work for anyone. Youth offenders are sent to a facility where they can simply walk straight out of, the ‘consequences’ for escaping is to be sent back to the same facility where they simply escape again. Nothing resembling real consequences is enforced.

“Frontline police officers tell me the current system is tag and release which takes up valuable time and saps morale. They arrest the same youths over and over again, sometimes just to return them to insecure facilities where the kid can escape out the back door while the police officers are filling out the paperwork at the front door.

“Youth offenders have escalated but the Government’s response hasn’t. How has New Zealand reached the point where kids think it is cool to smash up a store that a shopkeeper has worked hard for just for two moro bars.

“There needs to be escalating consequences. ACT has previously proposed instant penalties and ankle bracelets, now we’re making sure there are facilities run by Corrections available to hold offenders accountable.

“One of the purposes of Corrections is to rehabilitate. We expect these facilities would be the first time these offenders have had access to mental health support and rehabilitation within a stable environment in their lives.

“Some will say its cruel to lock youth offenders up. What’s truly cruel is for these offenders to face no consequences until they end up in adult prison.”

  • ACT’s Real Change Budget invests $677 million over the next 4 years on reducing youth crime by holding young offenders accountable and increasing resources available for children in care.
  • This includes $500 million on the construction of 200 new youth justice beds and approximately $44 million each year to operate these new beds. These beds will be under the control of the Department of Corrections and, once complete, will replace the approximately 160 youth justice spaces currently provided by Oranga Tamariki.
  • As a result, Oranga Tamariki will be able to redeploy these beds – suitably modified – and approximately $25 million a year to young people in state care.

“In just a few years Labour’s soft on crime approach has driven New Zealand to the point where filling up at the petrol station or grabbing a burger from a fast food restaurant are dangerous tasks. New Zealand can’t become a country where this becomes normal,” says ACT’s Police spokesperson Chris Baillie.

“In my previous career as a Youth Aid police officer I regularly dealt with troubled youth. It’s possible to turn their lives around, but they need to see that their actions have consequences and Youth Aid officers need the tools and support.

“Over the last two years, there has been a 465 per cent increase in ram raids, with 70 per cent of the offenders younger than 18.

“Frontline police are flat out, but the directives they receive are bewildering. They’re encouraged to not arrest people unless they have to, and they cannot enforce any consequences on youth criminals who are being caught committing crimes over and over again.

“It’s well past time for a change of values on crime. New Zealand can’t be allowed to reach a point where kids grow up thinking this is normal.

“ACT says if you can do the crime, you can cop the punishment. It’s time we got real about youth crime. ACT’s plan would mean real change, real consequences, and safer communities.”

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