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

Youth Court change needs resources: police

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/12/2016

The government has to ensure it provides adequate resources after deciding to extend the youth justice system to lower-risk 17-year-old offenders, the Police Association says.

The courts now treat all 17-year-olds as adults.

The government says the change, to come into effect by 2019, will mean young offenders being dealt with according to what best suits their case.

Police Association president Chris Cahill says a survey of members earlier this year showed 73 per cent against extending the youth justice age.

Among Youth Aid officers, who are in the frontline, more than half were against the proposal, and those in favour indicated their support was conditional on getting additional resourcing.

Mr Cahill said police had to be able to do their job as best they could at all levels of offending and many areas of policing were stretched to breaking point.

"The last thing we need is any increase in our workload," he said.

"We are concerned that this move is based on youth court numbers and not the myriad of other ways Youth Aid officers work to keep the majority of child/youth offenders out of any courtroom."

Mr Cahill said the arrest and interview process for a child or youth offender was much more complex than for an adult.

He accepted that the policy move was focused on 17-year-olds deemed to be lower risk.

Police were also aware of the issues that arose when young people were placed in adult prisons and that the government had seen the need to be in line with other similar jurisdictions and the United Nations.

"It appears the government has moved to address international criticism," Mr Cahill said.

"The association now awaits the details of how the government will address the needs of the frontline staff and services to avoid domestic criticism."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon