Newshub Nation: Labour's Megan Woods denies party has been slow to act on youth crime and justice

Labour's campaign chair Megan Woods denies the party's approach to youth offending and justice issues has been too slow or reactive. 

Pressed on the issue by Simon Shepherd on Newshub Nation, Woods said she "doesn't accept that".

"If you look at some of the youth justice policies we've released this week, they're a continuation of work that has been underway for a long period of time," she said. 

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

A tough-on-crime approach has been a hallmark of National's campaign but Woods denies Labour's new policy is a reaction to the success their opposition has been finding with the messaging. 

"What we're doing is we're building on policy that we put in place months and months ago," she said, referring to the wraparound care programs in place for young offenders. 

"Around the 77 percent of kids who are succeeding in the program are not reoffending," she said. 

"This has got to be something that any responsible government continues to monitor."

Labour's release of justice policies this week has had problems. 

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, and also a new offence for anyone posting crimes on social media.

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.

Pushed on the policy's delivery, Woods admitted the Prime Minister "made a mistake on Monday".

But she also said everyone makes mistakes and it is important to acknowledge them. 

"Chris is more than happy to say, 'Yep, I made a mistake'."

She also asserted the mistake was a minor one. 

"The outcome is still the same. 

"What it's saying is we're putting in systems in our justice that actually takes this into account."

Another slip-up came when Kelvin Davis revealed there was no business case undertaken to determine the cost and timeframes of Labour's new youth justice policy to build two new youth justice units. 

"In terms of the people saying the business case hadn't been completed, we'd equally be sitting here getting hammered by you, Simon, if all we'd done is say that we have to wait till we've completed all the business case before we can say this is what we're going to do," Woods said.  

Watch the full interview for more. 

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