PM Chris Hipkins reveals new Govt youth crime policy as Kiri Allan returns

3 min read

People who influence children to commit crimes could be imprisoned for up to 10 years through a new offence created by the Government.

Those who publish recordings of criminal behaviour on social media will also receive stronger punishments as it will be considered by judges as an aggravating factor in sentencing, something the National Party proposed in June but with a focus on social media videos of ram raids.

The changes make up part of Prime Minister Chris Hipkins’ intention to focus on “prevention, protection and accountability” when addressing young offenders who are committing more violent crimes like ram raids and aggravated robberies.

“Kiwis have had a gutsful of people thinking the rules don’t apply to them, and I have had a gutsful as well,” said Hipkins in announcing the new crime policy.


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Another change, announced by Hipkins at his post-Cabinet press conference today, empowered the Family Court to require offenders aged 10 and older to undertake community work like cleaning graffiti and picking up rubbish. Currently, the Family Court could only request such activities be completed.

The court would also be able to require the person to attend an “educational, recreational or activity programme” with the intention to re-engage them with education.

“None of this is about locking up children and perpetuating the cycle of crime,” Hipkins said.

“It’s about accountability and consequences to help break the cycle of offending.”


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Hipkins was strong in his condemnation of those who used children to commit crime, referencing an “organised crime element”.

“Using a child to commit a crime is cowardly, exploitative and destroys lives, so the consequences must be serious,” he said.

He also claimed it was becoming “increasingly common” for offenders to record their crimes and post or livestream it.

“This ‘social media amendment’ we’re introducing will apply to adults and young people and provide the courts with an additional consideration when sentencing, and it sends a strong signal that this behaviour is unacceptable.”

Police Minister Ginny Andersen also confirmed $26 million in police funding to add up to 78 fulltime staff that would prepare “in-court work” to help clear the current backlog in the District Court.

It comes as Justice Minister Kiri Allan returns to Parliament after apologising to anyone who has found her behaviour towards them unacceptable after reports of concerns about working relationships in her office.

Hipkins, who recently returned from attending the NATO summit in Lithuania and on Sunday announced Labour’s election campaign slogan, was expected to detail a new policy targeting young offenders.

While youth crime nationally had shown a downward trend in recent decades, violent crime committed by young people has spiked.

Hipkins will likely be hoping to claim back the narrative on law and order after both National and Act have released various policies that largely propose stronger consequences for offenders.

Last month, National announced it intended to restrict judges’ ability to discount sentences, limiting discounts to 40 per cent. Allan at the time claimed it could lead to increased prisoner numbers and cost millions, which National hasn’t done any modelling for.


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National also said it will make filming and publishing a crime, such as a ram raid, an aggravating factor in the Sentencing Act.

This month, Act proposed 17-year-olds should be dealt with in the adult court system, in District and High Courts as opposed to Youth Court, but not generally sent to adult prisons.

The party also advocated for judges to consider a person being attacked in their workplace as an aggravating factor when sentencing the offender.

Together with the high cost of living, crime has risen as a key battleground ahead of the election as more than two ram raids occur on average per day across the country.

Act leader David Seymour speaking alongside party candidate Dr Parmjeet Parmar and small business owners in Auckland at the scene of a violent aggravated robbery. Photo / Sylvie Whinray
Act leader David Seymour speaking alongside party candidate Dr Parmjeet Parmar and small business owners in Auckland at the scene of a violent aggravated robbery. Photo / Sylvie Whinray

In May, Police Minister Ginny Andersen signalled to the Herald that legislative change wasn’t being ruled out as an option to address young offenders, but wouldn’t speculate on what changes could be made.

One minister involved in the discussion will be Allan, who was set to return to Parliament and her justice portfolio after being on leave during parts of June to take care of her mental health and wellbeing following a relationship breakdown.


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Her absence also coincided with reports over concerns about the working relationships in her office from over a year ago, when she was Minister of Conservation.

While the initial mental health leave was not connected to the issues raised about her office environment, Allan has since apologised to anyone who has found her behaviour towards them unacceptable in a statement released on Friday.

Hipkins, also in the statement, said he met with Allan on Friday to discuss her recent leave and allegations made against her.

She was expected to resume her full duties from today and would receive “extra coaching to support her to create the positive working environment both of us are committed to”, Hipkins said.

“Kiri has had a rough time lately, both personally and at work, and I’m pleased she is in a much better space after taking some time off and getting some professional support.

“Mental well-being should never be a source of shame or embarrassment. I commend Kiri for speaking publicly about her recent struggles and I’ve been resolutely committed to supporting her through that. Mental health challenges can confront any of us. It’s important we create an environment where people can speak openly about that and get any help they need.”


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PM to Kiwis: Get behind Football Ferns

Hipkins said he had met with the Football Ferns ahead of the Fifa Women’s World Cup beginning – and encouraged New Zealanders to get behind it.

“It would be great to see a full house for as many games as possible.”

Hipkins said he would be at the first New Zealand game at Eden Park, which had sold out.

The World Cup would be one of the most-watched sporting events in the world and one of the biggest events to take place in New Zealand, Hipkins said.

Adam Pearse is a political reporter in the Herald Press Gallery team, based at Parliament. He has worked for NZME since 2018, covering sport and health for the Northern Advocate in Whangārei before moving to the Herald in Auckland, covering Covid-19 and crime.

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