Roast Busters: CYF review shows 'gap' in process

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley (File)
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley (File)

The Chief Social Worker has released a damning report into the role of Child Youth and Family (CYF) in the Roast Busters sexual exploitation case.

It says many of the individuals involved fell through the cracks because the roles and communications between CYF, police and youth justice weren't clear enough.

In late 2013, 3 News revealed a group of young men calling themselves Roast Busters were bragging on Facebook about their sexual exploits with girls they met at parties and used that social media to recruit others.

Despite police investigations, no criminal charges have been laid against any of the people involved.  The case has since been scrutinised by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA).

Now the Chief Social Worker has released a review into the role of CYF in the investigation.

It says expectations between CYF and Police of what the agencies could do weren't clear or agreed upon, and that resulted in no intervention towards the men involved.

"If a person isn't being prosecuted, who then looks after them and keeps them safe? So I think this shows a real gap in the process," Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says.

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern says because the police decided to not intervene, CYF felt no need to either.

"Because police made a decision that there weren't grounds for them to intervene, CYF took their cue from police that there wasn't a role for them."

Eleven of the 14 people were already known to CYF, and Ms Ardern says it was ludicrous to not take this into account.

"Their threshold test is simply around child harm and that test was absolutely met, they could have done something and they didn't."

CYF has faced a six-fold increase in notifications over the past 15 years, but Ms Ardern says resource hasn’t been increased to match it.

"I'm not blaming social workers for this. You look at the increase in their workload; I am saying their minister has been ignoring their resource problem for a long time."

Ms Tolley disagrees.

"No, what they need to do is deal with those young people properly in the first place."

The minister says Roast Busters was the first case of its kind involving young people, sex and social media and that's why the review's been made public. 

It'll now form part of a plan to overhaul CYF, which is due out in the next few weeks.

3 News