Judges will be able to send the most serious youth offenders to boot camp at Waiouru for up to a year, and police will be able to issue instant $200 fines to parents of children wandering the streets from midnight to 5am, Justice Minister Amy Adams said yesterday.
She said she would allow the Youth Court to compel parenting education courses on parents even if they discharge the charge against a young person.
She said if National was returned to Government, it would introduce a new classification of offender, young serious offender, targeted at a group of about 150 hardened young criminals aged over 18 who committed a large number of offences.
Instead of being sent to prison, they would be sent to the New Zealand Defence Force-led Junior Training Academy at Waiouru. They would get support there to address problems like addiction or a lack of literacy and numeracy skills, helping them lead better lives while keeping the public safe, she said.
"Those who fail to complete their time at the Academy will serve a commensurate adult sentence of imprisonment instead."
An estimated 50 offenders would be sent to the academy each year in a scheme that would cost $30 million over four years.
Adams also said National would change the law to allow the Police to issue instant $200 infringement notices to parents of children under 14 wandering the streets unsupervised between midnight and 5am.
"In many cases, young people who offend have few good role models or are given the freedom to commit crimes," she said.
In addition, any breaches of court orders directed at a young person's parent would be recorded on that parent's criminal record.
A loophole meant that could not currently happen.
"We will also introduce a contestable fund of $30 million over four years for community groups to support programmes to reduce offending, because we know local solutions are often the best, and we want to give smaller or rural communities the opportunity to take further action," Adams said.
Green leader James Shaw said the measures were like a police state.
Labour justice spokesman Andrew Little said boot camps did not work. They turned young criminals into fit young criminals.
"National's policy is simply a desperate headline-grabbing response to a problem the Government has created through their underfunding of Police for nine years.
"Boot camps and infringement notices for parents are simply draconian and counterproductive.
They won't make a difference. They are punishing parents when what we need are new ways of intervening early on with families who have challenging situations."
"National are the worst re-offenders in youth crime," the headline of his press statement said.
Act leader David Seymour said National had previously announced a boot camp policy - John Key in 2008 in Opposition - and the party had failed because National did not want to commit to addressing youth crime beyond slogans.
"If National can't even break their own cycle of behaviour, how can they hope to break the cycle of failed families and youth offenders who cause so much damage to New Zealand society?"
The policy was applauded by the Sensible Sentencing Trust.