Report shows downward trend of youth entering justice system

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

A new report shows the rate of offending by young Māori hasn't reduced at the same rate as non-māori. However, the research which was carried out by three government departments says substantial gains have been made in reducing the number of Māori youth in the justice system.

The report shows a downward trend of young people entering the justice system.

Associate Minister of Justice Aupito William Sio says, "The concerning fact is that for Māori in particular and also for Pacific, it is that it's still high and it's still a worry and it should be a worry for all of our countries."

He says the justice system needs to be reframed.

"There is general commitment by this government that we need to move away from the punitive the punishment focus of our justice system into more a rehabilitative focus."

The Youth Justice Indicators Summary Report indicators measure volumes and patterns across key stages in the youth justice system. They include information about entry into the system, how young people progress through it, and reoffending. Data for the indicators was provided by the New Zealand Police, Oranga Tamariki and the Ministry of Justice. 

"Our youth justice system is simply feeding the high numbers of people in our prison we have one of the highest prison rates ever in the world and it's quite costly for our society," says Sio.

Sio acknowledges that it's important to support local initiatives that seek to reconnect rangatahi Maori with their cultural identity and strengthen connections with whānau and iwi to help reduce Maori youth offending.

"Some of the soft measures that have occurred which are success stories so far is the Maori youth courts where are young people / are asked to reassess their crimes to feel a sense of accountability but also the recognition that they have an identity a cultural heritage which is strength based that we need to start the conversation with."

A report will now be produced every 6 months.