Youth lock-ups on the rise
Tue, 23 Oct 2012 6:11p.m.
By Rachel Tiffen
A joint review of how young people are treated in police detention has found major changes are required and the numbers detained need to drop.
Nearly three times as many youths were locked up last year as three years ago.
But one woman who's a victim of New Zealand’s worst ever youth offender disagrees there needs to be fewer.
Rita Croskery stays close to her son 11 years after he died at the hands of New Zealand’s youngest ever killer. Bailey Kurariki killed Michael Choy when he was 12, but started causing trouble when he was five.
Although jail didn't stop him, Ms Croskery says a night in lock-up early on might stop others.
“If they get a night in jail, something that really makes them feel like they've done something wrong, they might turn around, and it's got to be immediate,” she says.
New Zealand’s first joint review by the Office of the Children's Commissioner, the Independent Police Conduct Authority and the Human Rights Commission found what the United Nations has always advocated – that police detention needs to be a last resort.
The number of young people locked up for more than 24 hours is on the rise, up from 76 in 2009 to 213 last year, but former Youth Court principal judge Sir David Carruthers says numbers have always fluctuated as Child, Youth and Family facilities change and different police districts use different tactics.
“You only have to go on a Friday night, particularly in a larger area, and there'll be the smell of urine as people urinate themselves, are unwashed and smelly,” says criminal barrister Michael Bott. “If you're a young kid and you've got pressure at home, that could basically tip you over the edge.”
Police acknowledge that dealing with young people can be particularly difficult, and they've just introduced a youth policing strategy to help officers keep them safe and hopefully keep them out of the criminal justice system.
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24/10/2012 6:05:02 p.m.
Youth are no longer youth if they commit adult crime. If they, Youth, believe that are big boys then expect to be treated as one.
23/10/2012 9:05:09 p.m.
Excellent. Keep locking the bastards up !
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