13 Dec 2012

Government says youth justice programme working

4:17 pm on 13 December 2012

A progress report on the Government's youth justice programme shows violent offending by some of the worst young offenders is down 50%.

The two-year-old Fresh Start scheme takes up to 40 of the most serious such offenders each year through a military-style training camp.

The camps are a last-ditch attempt to stop those young people heading to adult prison and a life of crime.

Of the 31 young offenders who completed a camp this year, 19 went on to re-offend - but at a lower frequency and less seriously.

Youth justice family group conference referrals have dropped 12%, while there has been a 63% drop in young people transferred from the Youth Court to the District Court.

Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows says the results indicate that the programme is on the right track.

However, Mr Borrows says some tweaks will be made, such as providing more support for young offenders integrating back into their communities after completing a military camp.