Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Staff member injured in escape at CYF youth justice facility

Police were called about the incident at Korowai Manaaki. Photo / File
Police were called about the incident at Korowai Manaaki. Photo / File

A staff member was injured when two teenagers escaped from a Child Youth and Family youth justice residence.

The incident happened last Friday. Police were called and placed them in custody after the young men were located.

CYF general manager youth justice support Chris Polaschek confirmed the incident at Korowai Manaaki in South Auckland, after New Zealand First called for Social Development Minister Anne Tolley to take action.

"Child, Youth and Family took immediate steps to increase security and is conducting an investigation into the events that led up to the absconding," Polaschek said.

"One staff member suffered a minor injury during the incident. This staff member and another were sent home for the day. Both have since returned to work."

CYF has four youth justice facilities that house people aged 12 to 16 awaiting youth court hearings or serving a sentence.

Polaschek said that residents are not locked in their rooms at night. However, each unit is secured as well as the wider premises. Security is present and young people are "actively monitored".

The latest incident comes after Police were called to Korowai Manaaki in October, after a group of boys overpowered staff, taken their keys, before escaping to the roof. They were eventually talked down and brought off the roof using a fire ladder.

Darroch Ball, New Zealand First's spokesman for Social Development, said action needed to be urgently taken by Tolley.

"We warned the Minister many times over the past year that problems with youth justice facilities were putting staff, youth and the community in danger.

"Minister Tolley needs to intervene at Korowai Manaaki until the obvious problems are solved. This is no longer an operational level matter, the time for action from the minister is now."

In October the Herald revealed teenagers at Christchurch's Te Puna Wai o Tuhinapo were wrongly detained for weeks on end in a seclusion wing.

Minister for Social Development Anne Tolley has previously said the future of residences will be considered as part of an overhaul of care for young people.

"I'm not convinced that they are the best option for some of the young people placed in them, and that alternatives in the community might provide better long-term support, while keeping safety in mind."

- NZ Herald

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