Politicians must address the real causes of crime

Wednesday 10 May 2023, 8:34AM

By Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand


The below statements can be attributed to Lisa Woods, Campaigns Director at Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand. This follows the announcement from ACT New Zealand of a new policy for combating youth crime. 

"Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand has a vision for society where everyone can enjoy their human rights. This means we all have a healthy place to live, a valued role to play and a network of social support around us. To achieve this vision, our country’s politicians need to establish an evidence-based approach to crime and justice.

"New Zealanders want a system that addresses the upstream causes of crime so that fewer people become victims. New Zealanders need a system that holds people accountable for the harm they cause while investing in their innate potential to become flourishing members of society.

"Young people who break the law should be held accountable for the harm that they cause, but the reality is that many young people who harm others are also victims of harm themselves. Due to decades of government failure to provide sufficient preventative resources such as mental health support, educational support and addictions services, many young people are not having their needs met. Corrections facilities should not be the first time that young people have access to mental health support, and it should not be their first chance at experiencing a stable environment. That’s called dealing with the downstream consequences of crime, rather than the upstream causes.

"We know from research that putting people in youth justice facilities doesn’t work to reduce reoffending. It doesn’t work to address the causes of crime in society, and it doesn’t work to put people on a path to a better life.

"Putting more young people into Corrections-run facilities risk channelling them into a system that can trap them for life. New Zealand can’t become a country where this approach becomes normal. Instead, we need a system that gives young people a genuine chance to contribute to society while reducing the risk that any of us are harmed by crime."