Victims of offending by children with family group conferences
Published: April 13, 2023
This study was commissioned to inform work around youth offending and youth engagement. The report focused on 580 victims associated with 114 youth justice family group conferences (FGCs) held in the 12 months to 30 June 2021 for children who offended.
Police and Oranga Tamariki Family Group Conference (FGC)-related documents and case notes were manually reviewed by researchers to capture information on the characteristics of victims, the offences committed against them, and their relationships to the children who offended. Information was also captured on the co-offenders or associates present with the children at the offences.
A total of 580 victims (450 individuals and 130 entities) were associated with 114 FGCs and involved 107 distinct children. 7 children had 2 FGCs within the year that involved different offences and victims.
Victims of offending by children:
The research showed that the vast majority of victims were adults and were individual people rather than businesses or other organisations. Victims who were individuals were more often male than female (45% and 33% of all victims respectively), while 80% were adults and 19% were under 18 years of age. Organisations that were victims (15% of the total) were mostly retail businesses, including grocery stores, department stores, specialty stores, petrol stations, and shopping malls. 4% of all victims were schools and 3% were local and central government organisations (including councils, Oranga Tamariki, and NZ Police).
Our analysis of the types of crime being committed by children revealed that almost half of the victims experienced an offence involving their motor vehicle, with other victims experiencing burglary, property damage, shoplifting, assault, and a variety of other offences. Stolen vehicle offences accounted for 48% of the 450 offences against individual victims, but only 4% of the 130 offences against entities. Nearly three-quarters of the offences against businesses/organisations and schools were shoplifting/other theft or burglary.
Relationship between children and victims (available for 447 of the 450 individual victims):
Most (87%) of the 447 victims did not have a relationship to the child prior to the offending, whereas 13% did. In 9% of cases, the victim and child were known to each other as friends, acquaintances, or they attended the same school. In 4% of cases, the child offended against a whānau member (most commonly a sibling) or a caregiver.
Peer group influences (available for 553 of the total 580 victims):
Three-quarters (76%) of the 553 victims were victimised by the child in the presence of one or more co-offenders or associates. This included 30% of victimisations where 3 or more other people were present with the child. Peer groups, including older peers, appear to be a significant factor associated with children’s offending.
Victim participation in FGCs:
The research also looked at victim participation at FGCs, with only 10% of victims attending themselves or sending a representative. A third of victims provided a submission to be read at the FGC, but 57 percent of victims did not participate in any way.
This research shows us that victim participation at FGCs is lower amongst certain groups than others, with differences existing by gender, type of victim (for example individuals vs businesses and organisations) and the type of crime.
This research will inform ongoing work around supporting victims of youth crime and encouraging more victims to participate in FGC processes.