Youths charged with crimes in state care

Whangarei Report - - HISTORY - By Mike Dins­dale

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.

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