Police patrol to reduce youth truancy and crime

By Talisa Kupenga

A link between youth truancy and crime is driving a two-week police patrol throughout the Auckland region to engage those not attending school. The patrols aim to reduce crime rates and identify children who require additional support.

This police inspector is tracking down youth to help get them back on track.

Inspector Rawiri Matiu, Papakura Police says, "We've all been kids at some stage, we've all made bad decisions. It doesn't mean that they're bad, they're making bad choices but the role is for me and the other police officers is to get in there, work out what's wrong and try and help them."

In the Papakura area, Matiu sees around 10 truants a day. He works with youth aged between five and 16 years old. His goal is to help guide them and reduce youth crime.

Matiu says, "They're with friends who may commit crimes and as a result they're caught up in it too. I have found that a few of them are having difficulty at home, they need things at home like food and just the basic necessities they need at home and they're using that [crime] to get ahead to survive."

Last year, Auckland Police dealt with 1094 youth offenders aged between 10 and 14 years. Police say these youth were involved in a total of 2000 incidents of crime.

Matiu says, “We've found once they've been a truant they go on to doing other offending like burglaries so if we don't get on to it straight away it does lead onto bigger issues later on and so that's the problem we want to address really because there's only a small percentage that I find out of the amount of kids that we deal with that go on to being recidivist."

Inspector Matiu says his goal is to support and prevent these youth going to court.