From week ending 22 July 2011
On Tuesday the Minister of Social Development, Paula Bennett, released Fresh Start Reforms in Operation – a progress report on the implementation of the Fresh Start youth justice reforms. The Fresh Start reforms centre on reducing incidences of youth offending, and are an outcome of the ‘Addressing Drivers of Crime’ policy framework.
The report showed that for the 2010/11 (financial) year there were 39,000 incidences of children or youth being apprehended by the Police. The majority of these incidences, 78%, were addressed through Police diversion. However there were still 7,500 cases that had to be considered through more formal youth justice processes – and 53% of these cases involved Māori children or youth. Approximately 20% of youth justice cases are now being referred to Fresh Start programmes.
This year $1.3 million has been made available for Fresh Start programmes. These programmes focus on applying restorative justice practices. Some of these programmes are being delivered by Māori social service providers, using tikanga-based delivery approaches. While there is no data yet on the successfulness of the Fresh Start initiatives, research commissioned by the Department of Corrections has found restorative inventions were successful in reducing adult offending (for both Māori and others). In that context, funding for similar initiatives for Māori youth are well justified. (For further information on restorative justice research refer to pānui briefing 17 June 11.)