Community Government Partnerships Best Long-Term Weapon Against Crime

  • Tony Ryall

Justice Minister, Tony Ryall, said today that communities, in partnership with Government agencies, must take a far greater role in stopping crime.

Mr Ryall made the comments while opening the Papatuanuku Community Project; a new community based early intervention-crime prevention project in the Hamilton suburb of Fairfield.

"Projects that help families under pressure, like the one we are opening here today, are our best long-term weapon against crime," said Mr Ryall.

"Crime is falling in New Zealand. And, as a result of the huge efforts we are now making in early intervention, I predict crime will fall much more rapidly in around 5 to 10 years time.

"But, still too many people want to sit back and wait for the Government to solve all the problems in their communities. Unfortunately, for many communities that approach will not work.

"We must all do our part to stop crime before it starts. We must, as a community, commit ourselves to saving a generation from a life of crime.

"Government agencies are doing their part. The Government has expanded the highly successful Family Start programme. Housing New Zealand is committed to supporting community rejuvenation and crime prevention projects.

"Health and Education are putting in massive investment to ensure that young New Zealanders do not miss out at school through health or learning problems. And, the Police are dedicated to helping families and communities at risk from crime.

"But, at the end of the day we need the involvement of the community. That's because the programmes most effective in turning communities around are those that come from communities themselves.

"As the new Justice Minister I have made it a top priority to turn young people away from a life of crime. The Government has already taken major steps to deal with youth offending.

"We will do more. Right now the Government is investigating:

? electronic monitoring of serious young offenders; ? giving judges the power to require parents to attend parenting courses if their children are offending because of a lack of parenting skills; ? increasing access to juvenile records for all court types; ? expanding the "youth at risk" initiatives that focus on persistent and serious young offenders; ? clarifying the retention of identification evidence from young offenders; ? inviting the police to start joint patrols with probation and CYPS officers; and, ? Longer supervision orders.

"Labour on the other hand is offering nothing to deal with youth offending. The only 'new' initiatives in Labour's policy are fingerprinting and allowing the Youth Court to sentence young offenders for longer.

"I announced both of these initiatives at the National Party conference in July as part of our comprehensive new plan to deal with youth offending.

"It's little wonder Labour's Phil Goff has given up as Justice Spokesman to focus on Foreign Affairs.