26 Aug 2009

Chief judge welcomes plan to address youth offending

7:18 pm on 26 August 2009

The Government's plan for dealing with youth offending shows it is genuinely committed to the issues, Chief Youth Court judge Andrew Becroft says.

The Government on Wednesday outlined further details of its push to reduce youth offending, which will cost about $84 million over the next four years.

As well as military-style camps for 40 serious youth offenders, a further 200 offenders who have attended Family Group conferences will attend intensive "adventure camps" for up to 10 days.

Nearly 3,000 lower-level offenders will attend community-based programmes or get help with mentoring or substance abuse issues, as ordered by the Youth Court.

Up to 30,000 teenagers from poorer communities will get to attend week-long holiday camps every year.

Prime Minister John Key says the government initiative will provide children aged 11 to 17 with opportunities to do drama, outdoor recreation and sporting activities every year.

About 15,000 young people will take part in the programmes this year, before increasing to 30,000 during the Christmas holidays in 2011.

It will cost $10.5 million over four years and will be aimed at young people from deprived areas and from families under stress.

Judge Becroft says it is encouraging that those who are at-risk or just coming to the attention of police are also covered by the Government's initiatives.

However, he says the overall success will be measured by re-offending rates.