The Youth Justice Committee monitors proposals that affect the operation of the youth justice system, including proposed legislative reforms.
The Youth Justice Committee was established in 1998 to provide advice on issues and practice relating to youth justice. The committee has worked with the Youth Court on operational issues relating to the Youth Court. It also represents the interests of Youth Advocates, highlighting the valuable role of these practitioners, who play a specialised role in the youth justice system.
Members of the committee are experienced practitioners specialising in youth and/or criminal law. All members are youth advocates who regularly appear in the Youth Court and Ngā Kōti Rangatahi (Rangatahi Courts) as well as the District and High Courts:
A significant piece of work for the committee was preparing a submission to Parliament’s Social Services & Community select committee on the Oranga Tamariki (Youth Justice Demerit Points) Amendment Bill. The Bill proposes to introduce a ‘demerit points’ system for youth offenders that is “intended to improve behaviours and increase accountability and transparency within the youth justice system”. The committee appeared before the select committee, saying the proposed regime is not supported by evidence and is unlikely to achieve its objective of delivering appropriate consequences for youth offending.
The committee also liaised with the Principal Youth Court Judge during the Covid-19 lockdown to develop appropriate court protocols for the Youth Court.
Looking ahead, the committee is going to be considering issues related to youth advocate remuneration and youth advocate training.