You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Youth Court age raised to 18 for some

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/12/2016
<span style="font-size:13px;">Low-risk young offenders aged 17 will be dealt with by the Youth Court from 2019, the government says.</span> © Getty Low-risk young offenders aged 17 will be dealt with by the Youth Court from 2019, the government says.

Low risk 17-year-old offenders will soon be dealt with in the youth justice system under changes announced by the government.

In the past all 17-year-olds were treated as adults by the courts, but Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley say the change means young offenders will be dealt with according to the jurisdiction that best suits their particular case.

They said change was made with the knowledge New Zealand was an outlier in its treatment of 17-year-olds while acknowledging that some repeat offenders or youth charged with serious crimes do pose a real risk to society.

About 4500 17-year-olds are expected to be dealt with through youth justice processes as a result.

"We have great confidence that predictions show we can see a reduction in youth offending by about 15 per cent over the two years after this is introduced," Ms Tolley said, while the reduction in Maori offenders is expected to be even greater.

Ms Adams said while there would need to be up front investment, over 30 years the change is forecast to have a $68 million benefit.

"Yes it's an investment up front but it's an investment we want to make because we know the long term is actually significant positive benefits both for the government fiscally but more importantly for society," she said.

Under the changes young offenders charged with the most serious crimes, including murder, manslaughter, rape, serious assaults and aggravated robbery will still be dealt with in the higher courts while repeat offenders as young as 14 could be sent to adult courts based on the discretion of judges.

Anyone dealt with in the youth court could still also be sent to an adult facility "if their risk requires", Ms Adams said.

The change wouldn't be introduced until 2019 to give the government time to ensure resources including the NGO sector, police and youth justice residences are available, Ms Tolley said.

Labour's justice spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern welcomed the decision but said the timing was interesting given some members of the National caucus didn't support it, including leadership candidate Judith Collins.

"I hope this change is put in place firmly just in case for instance Judith Collins finds herself in a position of power because I know she certainly hasn't supported this change," she said.

"Only a couple of weeks ago Anne Tolley was saying it's too resource intensive but look we welcome the change nonetheless."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon