Shop owner supports ACT's idea to put youth offenders who commit serious crimes in ankle bracelets

A shop owner is supporting ACT's idea of fitting youth offenders as young as 11 with ankle bracelets, saying the Government needs to act now to stop offenders from continuing to recommit burglaries. 

ACT leader David Seymour said on Tuesday his party wanted to see more consequences for young people who commit serious offences, including ram-raids. 

One idea being touted by ACT is to fit youth offenders as young as 11 who commit serious offences with ankle bracelets that monitor their movements. 

That followed the Government unveiling a suite of programmes to try and tackle growing youth crime. 

Waikato retailer Ash Parmar told AM on Wednesday his two stores in the Waikato region were hit by ram-raiders in July but failed to get in. 

Even though the thieves failed, it still cost Parmar over $35,000 in damages to his stores, which is a "complete waste of money". 

He said he's been told by top Waikato police officers there is a core group of 15-20 youth offenders who are continuously offending. 

Parmar supports ACT's idea of monitoring young offenders because he feels parents and police aren't doing enough.

"That group in particular needs to be in ankle bracelets so police at night know they've left the house because clearly, the adult in the house has no idea where the kid is going," he said. 

"In my humble opinion, a little trigger should go off that this little group of three people, all young people, have left the house because it's too late by the time they've stolen a car and ram-raided a shop."  

Waikato retailer Ash Parmar says the Government's youth crime announcement won't fix anything.
Waikato retailer Ash Parmar says the Government's youth crime announcement won't fix anything. Photo credit: AM

Parmar told AM the repeat youth offenders are clearly going to continue committing crimes and are not worried about the punishments. 

"They are clearly not going to stop because going to court doesn't matter to them, the parents clearly don't care or the adult in the house, but as a retailer or community, we need something right now, not two years down the line or five years down the line, but something needs to happen right now," he said. 

Everglade Four square owner Kharag Singh, who was appearing alongside Parmar on AM, said his store has been ram-raided a "few times". 

He doesn't think ankle bracelets will solve the problem but instead suggests getting more therapy for the children involved. 

"I think a child psychologist has to be involved and what are ankle bracelets going to do to the kid at age of 11? There has to be some uncle, some aunty, some parent who loves that kid who's out there causing this havoc," he told AM. 

"I'm not in favour of ankle bracelets at age of 11, to be honest with you, because they are still a child." 

But Parmar disagreed with Singh saying the suite of programmes the Government unveiled on Tuesday have already been in place and are not working.

"It goes to the point we're looking to do something in the long term, these things will take a while because the issue at the moment is the same child is getting picked up. They've done the crime tonight, but in my humble opinion, within the two or three days, they're back on the street doing it again," he told AM. 

"I think putting a little bit more sellotape around the issue is not going to help because clearly those agencies were already there trying to help these kids and they haven't been able to change their opinion or the ways of operating or getting the parents to listen. 

"So putting another layer around it, I really think is not going to do anything in the short to medium term at all because these kids are going to be out on the street again." 

But one expert believes the Government has made the right move with its youth crime package announcement on Tuesday. 

E Tipu E Rea Whānau Services Policy and advocacy lead Emmaline Pickering-Martin told Newshub Late on Tuesday the programmes are the right approach as punitive measures have not worked in the past. 

She is calling on the Government to look at resourcing more young people rather than having big systems with older individuals. 

"We need to attract young people into these services by having people who are in their communities, who know them well, who are close in age, so they can connect with them in different ways that other people may not be able to," she said.

"I think this is where maybe if we looked at kind of investing in youth coaches or young people who work in community services that would be a better way to kind of bring people in."

Watch the full interview with Ash Parmar and Kharag Singh above.