A youth advocate is calling for the Government to focus on programmes that provide discipline and life skills for troubled youth.

The call-to-action comes after a 15-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl in a stolen car were killed in Palmerston North yesterday after they fled from police and crashed into a power pole.

Another 15-year-old girl, the backseat passenger, was taken to Palmerston North Hospital in a serious condition.

A MidCentral District Health Board spokesperson told the Herald today that she was now in a stable condition.


Palmerston North Youth advocate Billy Meehan said the deaths had devastated the community and he called on authorities to relook at policies and programmes supporting troubled youth.

Yesterday police said the 15-year-old driver of the stolen Subaru was in breach of his bail conditions for charges related to serious driving offences.

"When kids have this idea in their heads that they are 10ft tall and bullet proof, they never see the consequences of what can happen.

"There is no easy fix but the questions raised are, why weren't resources put around this boy to be a little bit more secure and why wasn't he looked after a little more closely?

"The resources needed to be put in the right places so he didn't have the opportunity to have a 12-year-old in a car and take a 12-year-old's life. He shouldn't have had that opportunity," Meehan said.

He said he didn't want to point fingers, but believed there was a growing problem.

"The honest truth is we namby-pamby too much. We are too PC. We need to start getting things a little more firmer.

"It is not a simple 'point the finger' and say it is this one's fault or that one's fault, it just doesn't work like that.


"There are all sorts of issues: family issues and cycles and there is no discipline and boundaries in their lives."

Meehan said he put no blame on police.

"They are trying to stop a vehicle that is no doubt driving illegally to start with, so in pursuing them they are stopping them running the risk of taking other lives.

"I don't point the finger at police for pursuing. If we stop pursuits then what is the answer, just to let them run wild and hope one day they stop?

"The ambulance at the bottom of the cliff isn't working anymore and we need stronger resources around prevention."

Meehan didn't have answers for how to fix the problem, but said a return to borstals was not a bad idea.

"I know people who went through borstals in the early days and turned their lives around pretty quickly and decided they didn't want to go back there real quick.

"If this boy had been put into some sort of care while he was waiting to be dealt with on the other charges, he wouldn't have had the opportunity to go out and pinch a car."

Meehan said the Government has a major role to play in fixing the problem.

"They are the ones who okay where the money goes, okay what is happening and sign off the programmes.

"More structured programmes that create more discipline in people's lives need to be there.

"These kids mainly need to learn life skills and to understand consequences for what they do so we need more programmes geared around that. Qualifications aren't worth anything if they don't have life skills."

Two dead following Palmerston North police pursuit

Central District Commander Superintendent Sue Schwalger said police starting chasing the car after being told a stolen vehicle , was possibly being driven by a 15-year-old who was breaching his bail conditions.

At 1.30pm yesterday an officer saw the Subaru on Monrad St, and signalled for it to pull over.

But the Subaru continued onto Pioneer Highway for about 90 seconds and crashed into a ditch hitting a power pole at the intersection of Shirriffs Rd.

The front seat passenger, a 12-year-girl, died at the scene. The 15-year-old driver died later in hospital.

The Serious Crash Unit and the Independent Police Conduct Authority are investigating, and an internal police investigation is under way.