New Zealand Labour Party

No excuse for teen’s lengthy cell lock-up

A planned overhaul of CYF must include an evaluation of the availability of placements for youngsters caught up in the youth justice system, Labour’s Justice and Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

“The fact Child Youth and Family had nowhere to put an Auckland teenager is extraordinary. 

“There are laws around holding young people in police cells for good reason. CYF has legal obligations to do all it can to find alternative arrangements. In this case it appears the agency failed to do that.

“This is not an isolated case. Concerns have been raised many times over the inadequacy of youth justice facilities, particularly for the growing number of girls coming into care and protection because of their criminal behaviour.

“If there are not enough beds for these kids then something needs to be done about it.

“Keeping youngsters with little or no family support in police custody for any length of time should be a last resort. They are not designed for the long term detention of adults, let alone children. Holding a child in a cell for four days is simply unacceptable.

“I remain hopeful the review of CYF that is currently underway will provide some much needed answers. Incidents like this demonstrate that despite the Minister saying otherwise, issues around resourcing must be part of that review work.”