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Large decrease in young offender numbers

05 September 2019

The Ministry of Justice has released its second Youth Justice Indicators Summary Report for the period 2010 to 2018. The purpose of the report is to assist those involved in Youth Justice to understand trends and issues.

Positive findings include very large reductions in children (aged 10-13) and young people (aged 14-16) who offended (from 5,012 to 2,330 children and from 13,832 to 5,623 young people).

The overall offending rate for children (10-13) fell 55% between 2010 and 2018. The reduction was higher for European/Other (68%) than for Maori (55%). Since 2016 the rate for Pacific children has almost halved.

For young people (14-16) the reduction was 58% between 2010 and 2018. The reduction in the offending rate for European/Other (71%) was greater than the reduction for Maori (56%). The rate for Pacific people decreased by 64% over the same period.

The indicators collated measure volumes and patterns across key stages in the Youth Justice system. Since the first report which covers the period from 2009/10 to 2016/17 new indicators have been developed and are incorporated into the report.

The new indicators examine the proportions of children and young people proceeded against receiving alternative actions/warnings, and who had no proceedings in the 2 years prior, who reoffended within follow-up periods of both 12 and 14 months.

The total number of proceedings for young people aged between 14 to 16 years declined between 2010 and 2018 from 1,275 to 583 per 10,000 people. Males represented 74% of people having proceedings against them with female representing 26 %.

Serious offending

However, while both minor and serious crime offending has dropped, the more serious offending now makes up a larger proportion of all youth offending. As indicated in the first report, this led to increases in YC appearances, reoffending of those young people as adults and the proportion of young people remanded in custody.

For the above indicators there have been recent improvements, including for Māori. For example, the proportion of young people who appeared in the Youth Court reduced from 35% in 2017 to 28% in 2018 (the proportion for Māori decreased from 46% to 36%).

The data highlights that young people who offend often have complex problems, which can be among the underlying causes of their offending. From 2010 to 2018 for almost all of the children and 80% of the young people referred for a Family Group Conference someone had previously expressed concern that they or their family needed help.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019