September 12, 2023
Street kids headache for police patrols
Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis is defending a Bill that means children as young as 12 who are involved in ram raids can be charged before the youth court.
Attorney General David Parker has warned the change could breach children’s rights under the Bill of Rights Act.
Mr Davis says because the children under the age of 14 can’t be charged for most criminal offences, there is no record kept when they come to the attention of police.
He says the Bill not about punishing kids but identifying them for ongoing care.
A ridealong with police in West Auckland last week confirmed the need to give police new legal tools.
“Literally there were these kids who had broken into a car around the corner from their home. Mum came down the police said ‘take these kids back.’ Then when we were driving around we got a call an hour later saying those kids were out on the streets again,” Mr Davis says.
With older children caught offending, a notification is made to Oranga Tamariki within 24 hours and then they can be referred judges to specialist kaupapa Maori organisations who develop wraparound plans for them and their whanau.