'Circuit Breaker' youth justice programme expands to two new locations

The initiative is designed to stop repeat youth offending

'Circuit Breaker' youth justice programme expands to two new locations

To address youth offending, Children's Minister Kelvin Davis announced the expansion of the successful 'Circuit Breaker' fast track programme, designed to stop repeat youth offending.

Launched in December last year in West and South Auckland, the initiative targets children aged 10-13 involved in severe offending or continue to re-offend at a high rate, providing them with a comprehensive, wrap-around approach.

The Circuit Breaker programme is underway in three other regions –Auckland Central, Hamilton and Christchurch. Davis announced that the programme is expanding, with two new locations in Whangārei and Rotorua.

The Circuit Breaker program focuses on immediate information sharing between Police and Oranga Tamariki within 24 hours of an offence. A tailored plan for supporting the young person is established within 48 hours.

Davis said, "Public safety is always a top priority, and while youth offending has been trending down for some time, we know there is a very small group of young offenders whose age and complex underlying issues mean they are falling through the cracks."

Davis further said, "We have seen fantastic results from the fast track programme where it has been rolled out and the key is agencies such as Police and Oranga Tamariki working in collaboration with the community."

To date, 252 young offenders have been through the programme, with 80 per cent not re-offending. The programme's expansion comes after the launch of an intensive version of the fast track programme designed to support up to 60 children for whom even the standard programme is not enough. It will involve wider, longer support programmes and will see an intensive support social worker assigned to the child and their family.

Police Minister Ginny Andersen said the spike in youth crime needed to be taken seriously, and the government was focused on initiatives that worked.

Andersen highlighted the government's commitment to evidence-based policies to address youth crime. She also addressed the decline in ram raids, attributing it to the success of the Circuit Breaker program. Andersen emphasised that ram raids are currently at their lowest in two years. They have dropped to 35 for August, following a trend downwards of 42 in July and 50 in June.

"We're interested in evidence-based policy regarding getting young people back on the straight and narrow. The results of Circuit Breaker to date show that this programme works. This programme breaks the cycle of offending," Andersen said.

The government's approach includes several initiatives, such as a new offence targeting ram raiding, an aggravating factor for adults involving young people in crimes, an aggravated sentence for online crime postings, and mandatory participation in education or community activities for young offenders.

Following the expansion to Whangārei and Rotorua, Lower Hutt and Dunedin are being assessed as potential future locations for the fast-track program.

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