19 Jul 2012

Tonga youth offending mirrors trends elsewhere, says police

4:34 am on 19 July 2012

The new head of Tonga's police says the country seems to be following a trend seen in other parts of the world where youth offending is on the rise.

Last week police charged a 12-year-old girl for breaking into a house and theft at a college on the same day in Nuku'alofa.

The commissioner of police Grant O'Fee, who's from New Zealand, says offenders are getting younger.

"From my briefings we are sadly just as we are in New Zealand and most countries we're seeing younger and younger people offending. It seems to me tragic that a young kid would get a conviction at 12 for an offence that may impact her for the rest of her life so we are looking in this particular case to see if we can't meet with the victim and the parents to see what other alternatives we have available."

Grant O'Fee, who has held the job for just 3 weeks, says children in Tonga have less supervision than they may have had in the past and both parents are often out working.