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Issue No. 410 February 2017

Alternatives in action

Most young offenders do not reoffend after Alternative Action – and the others reoffend less often and less seriously than before the intervention, new research shows.

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has released research into offending patterns after Alternative Action, under which Youth Aid officers, the offender and caregivers develop a plan to address offending as an alternative to Youth Court.

This may include activities such as written or face-to-face apologies to victims, reparation, a curfew and educational or other goals.

It is available in the youth justice system for those 16 years and under. With the youth justice age set to change in 2019, it will become available for 17-year-olds.

The report studied around 17,317 cases where Alternative Action was undertaken between 2010 and 2014.

It found that in the 12 months after Alternative Action:

  • 57 percent had not reoffended;
  • of the others, 71 percent reduced the frequency and 76 percent reduced the seriousness of their offending;
  • theft and property damage - the most frequent offence types – fell 38 percent and 44 percent respectively;
  • injury-causing acts fell 30 percent, and burglary offences by 20 percent;
  • 12 percent were referred to CYF because of reoffending. A custodial sentence followed in just 0.3 percent of cases.


Next page - Children’s Commissioner on the age change.

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