New Zealand Law Society - Report has positive indicators for youth justice system

Report has positive indicators for youth justice system

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Associate Justice Minister Aupito William Sio has released a Youth Justice Indicators Summary Report. The report finds that the youth justice system has generally performed well between 2009/10 and 2016/17.

Among the positive findings it highlights:

  • Very large reductions in the number of children aged 10 to 13 (down 59% from 5,139 to 2,109) and young people aged 14 to 16 (down 63% from 14,183 to 5,188) who offended.
  • A substantial decrease in the number of young people in the Youth Court between 2010/11 and 2016/17. The rate of Youth Court appearances decreased by 38% over the period.
  • A significant reduction in the number of young people (14 to 16) whose offending was serious enough to lead to a Family Group Conference or court action - down 58% from 4,860 to 2,206.

The report says in recent years the youth justice system has been dealing with a different mix of young people who offend and types of offences committed compared with earlier years.

"This reflects that while both minor and serious crime have dropped, the former has dropped more, so the latter now makes up a larger proportion of all youth offending.

While the overall number of young people who offend has decreased since 2013/14, the proportion who appeared in the Youth Court increased by 27% over the same period - from 29% to 38%. The report says it is likely that this recent increase reflects the change in the offender mix, as less serious offending has fallen more substantially compared to serious or persistent offending.

"The data highlights that young people who offend often have complex problems, which can be among the underlying causes of their offending," it says.

The report states that the data shows that there are major opportunities for further improvements in the youth justice system:

  • While there have been overall drops in youth offending volumes and rates, the degree of improvement has not been as significant for some groups, particularly young Māori. For example, the reduction in the offending rate for young people since 2009/10 has been much higher for European/ Other (74%) than for Pasifika (61%) and Māori (59%). Also, between 2014/15 and 2016/17, the Youth Court appearance rate for Māori increased by 23%, while the rate for non-Māori reduced by 12% in comparison.
  • The number of prosecuted young people who were remanded in custody changed very little between 2010/11 and 2016/17. However, over the same period the number of young people appearing in the Youth Court decreased 44%. As a result, the custodial remand rate has increased from 17% in 2010/11 to 28% in 2016/17, though there has been a small reduction since 2014/15 when the remand rate was 30%.
  • There has been little change in the 12-month and 24-month reoffending rates for young people since 2009. The 12-month reoffending rate for young people was 48% in 2009 and 49% in 2015. It dipped slightly between 2009 and 2012 before rising again. Similarly, the 24-month reoffending rate was 67% in 2009 and 66% in 2014.
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