Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft says changes to the youth justice system need to go further to allow judges the discretion to transfer teenagers up to the age of 20 to the Youth Court.
In December 2016, the National Government announced offenders 17 and under, would be dealt with in the Youth Court from 2019.
The Labour-led coalition Government has followed through with this plan, allowing more than $13 million in the 2018 Budget over four years for the transition.
Today on Newshub Nation, Judge Becroft told Lisa Owen the Government had done the right thing by raising the age, but the next step was to give judges the discretion to move people up to the age of 20 to the Youth Court.
"One of the big things my office campaigned for was to include 17-year-olds and we have done the right thing, but I think I have probably lacked courage, " he said.
"I think we should now have the ability to move some 18- and 19-year-olds who are facing developmental issues or other neurodevelopmental difficulties, foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, learning difficulties."
Judge Becroft said under that youth system these people would get a much better wraparound service and that this discretionary ability should be entrenched in law.
"Absolutely, and the adult courts to consider moving 18- and 19-year-olds into the Youth Court. Perhaps I'm even then lacking vision. Perhaps I should be going further, but I think bit by bit, if we can establish that what we do works and is the right thing, we'll make progress."