AN UPHILL BATTLE TO UNDO LABOUR'S DAMAGESocial Welfare
The Government is working hard to reopen many of the youth justice and care and protection beds closed by the Labour Government in 1990, says Minister of Social Welfare, Hon. Roger Sowry.
``It was typically short-sighted of the previous Labour Government to not plan for the future and close too many beds which our young people are now in serious need of. ``The Department of Social Welfare is encountering many obstacles in its attempts to increase the number of beds available for youth justice offenders.
The Department is currently working to open facilities to deal with youths with specific behavioural problems. These facilities will free up existing beds which can then be used for care and protection and youth justice placements.
Mr Sowry said that Annette King, in her media statement released today, was misleading the public about the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act.
Section 238 of the Act allows for a young person to be detained in Police custody pending a court hearing. No time limit is stated.
``It must be remembered that many of these young people have committed serious offences, often involving violence. Offences like aggravated robbery, sexual assaults and rape.
``I have already publicly stated that the CYPFS is a priority for me as Minister. I am confident that my Department is working hard to progress the residential strategy announced in 1996 which proposed more beds.
Mr Sowry said he expected to announce possible sites for facilities in Auckland and Christchurch within a month.