In February 2015 Ministers Bill English and Paula Bennett set new targets for the reduction of total crime. A 20% reduction is now targeted in total crime by 2018 (replaces the 15% by 2017). Although a noble and admirable target – what about those currently in custody – specifically youth. The number of youth in custody has diminished. Funding and resourcing remains the same – however recidivism rates for youth in custody remain high as does the disproportionate presence of Māori in custody. We say look at the quality of the spend, and the pathway of youth in custody:
- The need for agencies to work and corroborate closely together in the interest of youth;
- The quality of staff looking after youth – skills, experience, training; and
- The quality educational opportunities, support and transition resources, food, cultural and sporting activities.
The baseline funding for agencies supporting youth in custody remains the same – the outcomes are not showing improvement – students call for reflective thinking on both policy and practice for those most marginalised within society.
A group of St Thomas of Canterbury College students presented the findings of their annual index into youth in custody at the Nga Hau e wha Marae. Students worked in a voluntary capacity during the course of the year obtaining relevant and accurate information on youth custody figures from Official Information Act requests and material in the public arena. They have endeavoured to seek information from four government agencies and have experienced difficulties along the way (not too dissimilar to last year). This year the scope of the index has been widened to include an insight into those looking after youth in custody and the separate journey female youth experience. The index was launched by New Zealand’s Principal Youth Court Judge – Andrew Becroft. Also in attendance was Professor Ron Patterson (Ombudsman).