Tough on crime narratives risk harm

boy sits on bicycle


17 November 2022  

'Tough on crime' narratives risk harm

We are concerned by tough on crime narratives that risk ignoring the wealth of evidence which shows that punitive approaches to youth crime do not work.

When a child does something seriously wrong, it is often because they have been seriously let down by society. This means we need upstream interventions to address the causes of crime, rather than downstream interventions which may fail to address the underlying issues.

We need to see proposals that seek to understand and respond to the drivers behind harmful behaviour with an evidence-based, holistic approach.
Lisa Woods, Campaigns Director at Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand

Crucially, any approach must be grounded in international human rights standards. The United Nations advises that the minimum age of criminal responsibility should be at least 14 years old. Criminalising children as young as 10 years old in Aotearoa New Zealand is seriously at odds with these standards and risks doing further harm.