Government confirms plans for youth boot camps 

  • 05/03/2024
Chhour insisted she had confidence in Oranga Tamariki's leadership.
Chhour insisted she had confidence in Oranga Tamariki's leadership. Photo credit: RNZ

The Government is moving ahead with plans to create military style boot camps for "the most persistent young offenders," Childrens Minister Karen Chhour says.    

The establishment of "Young Offender Military Academies" was part of the coalition Government's 100-day plan and comes alongside the creation of "a new Young Serious Offender designation" said Chhour.   

"We intend for a pilot for a military-style academy to be operating from the middle of this year. It will have a military-style component as well as a rehabilitative and trauma-informed care approach to help these young people turn their lives around and reduce their risk of reoffending," she said.    

The programme will be led by Oranga Tamariki alongside other providers where appropriate.    

Oranga Tamariki will also liaise with other government departments "to ensure it is a well-rounded programme," Chhour said.    

"I'm confident this programme will deliver the real change needed for many youth offenders. It will show them actually, there are consequences for their actions, but also that with a disciplined and structured environment they can turn their life around."   

Chhour recently had to defend Oranga Tamariki after the Chief Ombudsman challenged the Government to change the agency at a scale rarely seen before.   

Chhour insisted she had confidence in the agency's leadership. 

On Sunday, a group of youths targeted an Auckland Caltex station in broad daylight and recent years have seen widely publicised videos of youths targeting dairies and gas stations with ram raids.   

Last year, Labour's Police and Social Investment spokesperson Ginny Andersen, said the boot camps would "produce fitter, faster, more well-connected young criminals". 

"They don't work because the evidence shows they don't work," she said.