9 Jun 2009

Young Maori crime statistics seen as "national scandal"

2:34 pm on 9 June 2009

Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft has denounced latest statistics on crime committed by young Maori as a "national scandal".

Ministry of Justice figures show Maori teenagers are three times more likely to be apprehended by police than their pakeha or Pacific Island counterparts.

Maori children are five times more likely.

Judge Becroft says 18% of the young people the Youth Court deals with are Maori and 60% of the offenders held in youth custody or police cells are Maori.

He says latest research suggests that young Maori who are involved or connected with their culture do not offend at any greater rate than any other person.

The Youth Court is looking at ways to better link Maori offenders with their community.

Judge Becroft says one initiative, in which Maori boys who have been through the family group conference process, have their rehabilitation plan monitored on a marae, has been successfully tested in Gisborne.

The marae-based programme is being assessed to see if it can be extended to several other courts in the North Island where there are Maori Youth Court judges.