Jenna Lynch analysis: 'Embarrassing' correction to youth crime policy shows rush

  • 17/07/2023

With its new promise to further crackdown on youth crime and the adults who fuel it, the Government is picking up on the anger of the electorate, says Newshub Political Editor Jenna Lynch.

She said the move was "reactive and clearly rushed".

At the Prime Minister's post-Cabinet press conference on Monday, Chris Hipkins announced a suite of changes to tackle youth crime.

One of the promises was to create a new offence for adults who use young people to commit a crime, which would be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Hipkins said "using a child to commit crime is cowardly and destroys lives so there should be serious consequences".

But an hour-and-a-half later, the Prime Minister's Office issued a correction saying the Government wasn't creating a new offence and instead it would make encouraging young people to commit a crime an aggravating factor.

Judges weigh up aggravating factors when considering sentences.

"Embarrassingly the Government hurried this out in such a fluster they mucked up their own policy," said Lynch.

Communities have long been calling for more tools to tackle youth crime and the Government's argument for 'why now' will be that retail crime has gotten worse and so more measures are needed, Lynch said.

"They'll be seeing that the steps they've already taken are just not getting results they need," she said. 

"But this all really comes back to politics - and the tough on crime vote - people want to see consequences for actions.

"Labour's never going to out ‘tough on crime’ the National party and Act but they need something to tell people on the election campaign." 

Lynch said this is Government policy doubling as Labour election policy.