Conferences not soft option

While the Youth Court granted the media permission to report proceedings involving four of the Wanaka offenders, no reporting is allowed of how other offenders were dealt with by way of family group conferences.

Youth aid Constable Phil Vink, of Wanaka, was therefore unable to say what went on in the Wanaka cases he was part of, but he had this to say when asked the general question: "Are family group conferences a soft option?"

"My opinion is it is very much not a soft option. It can be a harrowing option in terms of facing up to a lot of realities.

"Fronting up to a victim is very hard to do in the flesh. It's very easy to commit offences without thinking of a victim.

"So I think it's an extremely valuable process in terms of getting young people to understand that what they have done is wrong ... to fully understand and embrace the consequences and be committed to putting things right, rather than just receiving a fine in court or some community work.

"I often see what's going on with an adult being dealt with by the courts and the consequences are far less than if you go through the youth [system]."