Fight crime at birth: Tamihere

By Simon Collins

West Auckland's Waipareira Trust wants access to hospital maternity wards to start tackling the "drivers of crime" from birth.

The trust's chief executive, John Tamihere, plans to use a summit meeting on the drivers of crime at Parliament today to propose a radical devolution of welfare funding to community groups.

He wants to be funded to cut youth offending in Waitakere by 5 or 10 per cent by target dates, rather than to work with young offenders only after they have committed crimes.

Mr Tamihere, a Cabinet minister in the Labour Government from 2002 to 2004, was forced by Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark to apologise after he made a similar call to hand over welfare funding to community groups in 2003.

But his proposals may get a more sympathetic ear from the current Government, as devolution of state funding to community groups is popular in the National Party and its biggest support party, the Maori Party.

Justice Minister Simon Power and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples have picked Mr Tamihere and his ally Willie Jackson, who heads the Manukau Urban Maori Authority, to chair two of the 10 breakout groups at today's crime summit.

Mr Tamihere said the current response to crime was ineffective.

"The problem is that there are 173 groups in Waitakere City putting their hands up for youth-related matters. Furthermore, all their services run nine-to-five, not from 10pm to 6am when all the shit happens.

"We are going to roll out a service in the next three months looking at that, and we have 85 Maori wardens and we'll start to come together."

He said the trust was "negotiating access to the maternity wards" to start working with problem families from birth.

- NZ Herald

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