National MP Erica Stanford 'really proud' of youth crime policy, despite earlier saying ankle bracelet idea 'breaks my heart'

A National MP who previously said the idea of fitting youth offenders with ankle bracelets "breaks my heart" says she was referring to ACT's policy, despite her own party now proposing a similar initiative.

National's latest youth offending plan, announced on Thursday, was proving controversial. It would see some reoffending 15 - 17-year-olds end up in Defence Force boot camps and would include electronic monitoring for youth aged between 10 and 17 who had committed two or more serious offences. 

The electronic monitoring aspect was similar to ACT's policy. Leader David Seymour earlier this year proposed offenders as young as 11 who committed serious offences be fitted with ankle bracelets that monitor their every move. 

Last month, the Government didn't rule out putting ankle bracelets on youth offenders but National Education spokesperson Erica Stanford said at the time she didn't think they were the answer

"I, and the National Party, are not wanting to see 11-year-olds with ankle bracelets," she told AM in October. "Firstly, I think we need to look at how we got here and these kids are so far away from the education system because we've done nothing over the last years to keep them attached.

"We're going to whack an ankle bracelet on them? I mean, it just breaks my heart that we're even talking about this," Stanford added.

Erica Stanford.
Erica Stanford. Photo credit: AM

Speaking to AM on Friday, the day after National's latest youth offending plan was announced, Stanford said she was discussing ACT's policy when she made those comments.

"If you take a look at our policy, which I'm really proud of actually, it's a suite of things," she said. "It talks about monitoring to make sure that we're keeping young offenders safe and the public safe but, actually, it talks about them being repetitive, serious, ringleaders. We're not talking about ACT's policy anymore where we're just going to whack an ankle bracelet on anybody - but to actually give kids boundaries, to keep them safe, we have to be able to monitor them in some circumstances."

Senior Labour MP Michael Wood, appearing on AM alongside Stanford, said National's policy was "cheap, populous" politics.

"This is the worst kind of politics," he said. "It's not based on any evidence at all - it's just about trying to get some votes by sounding tough on crime.

"We know there's an issue here. We've got to get down to the grassroots level with these kids and their families… that's where we've got to put the focus rather than this populous nonsense."

National's youth crime announcement came after leader Christopher Luxon said in September his party wouldn't support ACT's ankle bracelets idea.