Youths charged with crimes in state care
Twenty one children have been charged with crimes, including aggravated robbery, while in state care in Te Tai Tokerau in one year.
Figures released to the Northern Advocate under the Official Information Act, show that in the 2017/18 year there were 493 children and young people in they care of Oranga Tamariki in Te Tai Tokerau.
Of those, Oranga Tamariki said, 31 were subject to a Youth Justice referral and 21 of them were charged with one or more offence.
But Oranga Tamariki would not reveal what those charges are, saying it would take too much time and effort to find this out.
“While we are able to report on the number of children/young people who are apprehended or charged, it is not possible to provide you with a breakdown of those charges. This information is contained in the file notes for each child charged,” Steve Groom, Oranga Tamariki general manager, Public, Ministerial and Executive Services, said.
“While we do record this information, to provide it to you would requires to manually review the file notes of all children/young people charged with an offence. This would involve reviewing numerous file notes for each child/young person for whom we received a Youth Justice referral. We have determined that we would not be able to respond to this request without substantial collation.
“I believe the greater public interest is in our staff being available to support our children and young people.” The Advocate is referring the matter to the Ombudsman.
While Oranga Tamariki would not reveal charges, the Northern Advocate is aware that at least one of the youngsters has been charged with aggravated robbery of the Rainbow Dairy, in Whanga¯ rei, on August 21, where knife-wielding robbers jumped over the counter and demanded that the dairy owner’s wife hand over their 2-month-old baby girl.
His wife and another family member locked themselves in a back room to escape the robbers who also trashed the Rainbow Dairy in Rust Ave about 1.30pm. With their faces covered, the two had allegedly ripped out the cash register and emptied cigarettes off shelves before running away. The robbery shocked the owner, forcing him to close the dairy for good. Police apprehended two teenagers aged 15 and 16 in Kauika Rd, Whanga¯ rei, within an hour.
Groom said the purpose of the youth justice system is to prevent children and young people from offending and reoffending.
“We achieve this by helping them restore the harm caused by offending to themselves and others and by understanding the causes of that behaviour,” he said.
“Victims participate in youth justice processes and hold young people to account for their actions by giving opportunities to right the harm.” Groom said Police are responsible for charging people with crimes.
“We receive a Youth Justice referral from police in cases where a child/young person in our care and protection is apprehended for an offence or where charges are laid. In either case, the social worker and other professionals involved will receive the notification and will work with the young person and their family/ whanau to ensure that supports are in place to reduce the risk of on-going antisocial behaviours.”
At least one of the two youths charged over the violent aggravated robbery of the Rainbow Dairy, above, in Whanga¯ rei on August 21, were in state care at the time.