Youth crime wave plea

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Parents need to set boundaries for their teenagers and stick to them, Youth Aid officer Senior Constable Steve Heyrick says.

Police had experienced a mini youth crime wave, he said.

Nineteen young offenders had been referred to Youth Aid and been through the Youth Court process in the past four or five months, he said.

“It’s unheard of for Gore, [but] we’re on top of it,” Snr Const Heyrick said.

“It’s blown out the stats.

“We’ve got a handle on it,” he said.

Last year Youth Court days had to be cancelled because of a lack of offenders, but now extra court days were being added to the schedule, Snr Const Heyrick said.

Normally, only two or three youths were “on the books” at any one time, he said.

The number of youth offenders had steadily increased in the past year, he said.

Sadly, many youth offenders were regular users of alcohol or drugs, he said.

It was the responsibility of parents to set boundaries for teens and know where they were at nights and who they were with, he said.

If teens were picked up by the police, their parents might be contacted to come and get them.

“It’s just putting responsibility back on parents,” he said.

While it was normal for teens to make mistakes, blatant offending and victimising people were another matter, he said.

The police were not tackling the problem on their own and a host of community organisations such as Hokonui Runanga and schools also helped formulate strategies, he said.

“It’s a community problem.”

Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks has chaired several meetings to discuss solutions to youth offending, attended by government agencies, the police, community organisations and schools.

Mr Hicks said there had been several crimes attributed to young people over the past few months. Most had involved property, but there was one assault involving teens.

“It is an issue,” Mr Hicks said.

It was a problem that could only be addressed by the community working together, he said.

Most teens still lived at home and their parents needed to take responsibility for them, he said.

He was involved in setting up a group comprising various agencies to take on a role similar to the social sector trials, which finished late last year, Mr Hicks said.

The group was led by Mr Hicks, the Community Networking Trust, Hokonui Runanga and the new combined schools’ “community of learning”.

The social sector trials focused on young people aged 12 to 18, but the new group would broaden its focus to include those up to 24 years old and their families, he said.

“Overall, this initiative is developed by the community for the community,” Mr Hicks said.

Early intervention in children’s and teens’ lives was the aim of the agencies involved in the new group, he said.

By working together it would be easier to pick up when a young person was experiencing difficulties.

There would be people who knew if a young person was experiencing difficulties, he said.

“If we don’t do something like that, it’s a problem we are going to see more of,” Mr Hicks said.

The latest incident involving teens was the assault of a 14-year-old boy by three youths in Coutts Rd at 3.45pm on Friday. The victim escaped injury, Sergeant Clint Wright said. Police are calling for information relating to the incident. Phone Crimestoppers on 0800 555-111.