Timing of Government's latest crime announcement questioned

In the final part of its youth crime trilogy, the Government has announced it will make ram raids a specific crime - punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The move will also allow police to charge 12 and 13-year-olds so they can be tried in the Youth Court. Under the current system, they can only be charged for the most serious charges like manslaughter and murder.

It will mean pre-teens can face penalties like being locked up in a youth justice facility or wear an ankle bracelet.

But the Prime Minister says the decision isn't about locking up children.

The ram raid epidemic has been destroying lives and livelihoods. 

"We have been failing as a country to deal with the youth offending," said Chris Hipkins.

The Government wants to make ram-raiding a specific crime, for passengers too, and punishable by up to 10 years.

It will change the law so 12 and 13-year-olds can be charged.

"This isn't about sending children to prison," Hipkins said. 

The idea is to use the Youth Court as a tool to access more options for rehabilitation.

"I'm not going to write these kids off. If they are 12 years old they've got a whole life ahead of them and I'm not willing to just give up and say, 'Okay, they are going to spend their lives in and out of prison'. We can do better than that."

But it means 12-year-olds can be treated as criminals.

Justice Minister Kiri Allan said ankle bracelets are "already something that's available to those that are charged in the Youth Court jurisdiction".

Aaron Hendry is a youth worker who knows just how damaged young offenders can be.

"Bringing children into the justice system, that's concerning," he said.

"A couple of things I really do like is the expansion of the circuit breaker programme, I think that's really important."

On Monday, Newshub met Sukjinder Singh whose dairy was ram raided at the weekend.

He wanted tougher punishments.

Three days and three youth crime announcements later, Singh said: "They are taking it seriously so I feel a little safer about that. That they're hearing our voice."

"ACT has said that you should be eligible to have an ankle bracelet from age 11 if you commit a ram raid," said ACT leader David Seymour.

"People said that was harsh at the time. I think people are now coming around to the reality."

National's justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said: "After six years of saying 'tough on crime' won't work, three months before the election they are pretending to be tough on crime. Nobody believes it."

While the Opposition doesn't hate it, Labour's bedfellow does.

"I think it's clear that there's some jostling around between the two main parties, and ACT, trying to make up solutions that just do not work," said Greens co-leader Marama Davidson.

After two days of messy tough-on youth crime action, including creating - then retracting - a different new offence on Monday, the third time's a charm.