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Christchurch City Council Media Release 1 February 2002

Centre To Help Keep Kids Safe

A safe centre is being set up on a trial basis for children and young people found in at risk situations in public places on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Youth Night Safety Centre is an initiative between the Police, the Christchurch City Council (CCC) and the Department of Child, Youth and Family. The aim is to provide a safe place for children and young people found in potentially unsafe situations until a parent, guardian or caregiver is contacted or alternative arrangements are made.

Christchurch City Councillor Graham Condon says there has been concern for years about children and young teenagers in public places late at night and early in the morning.

"They are not accompanied by adults and are potentially at risk. The risk is increased when alcohol or drugs are a factor."

At risk, as defined under Section 48 of the Child, Youth and Family Act, refers to any unaccompanied child or young person found in a situation where their physical or mental health is being, or is likely to be, impaired.

Under the Act, the Police can take a young person considered to be at risk home to a parent, guardian or caregiver. If that person cannot be located, the young person can be placed in the care of a social worker. This can be a time consuming process, which can keep Police resources tied up for long periods.

In the 12 months ending June 2001 the Police and the CCC Youth Work Project team delivered 89 young people home from the central city during Friday night patrols.

A special operation run by the Police over three nights in 2001 saw more than 80 young people identified as being at risk.

CCC Youth Advocate Robyn Moore says the centre will provide a system where children and young people can be dealt with sensitively and efficiently.

"The centre will be based at the Christchurch Central Police Station for the trial period. A duty social worker, a police officer and a youth worker will be available to ensure the young person is welcomed and that a parent or guardian is contacted and asked to collect them. If this is not possible, the duty social worker is on hand to make suitable, alternative arrangements."

Cr Condon says getting the centre up and running shows what can be achieved by working in partnership. "It's a start. Once the trial period is finished and evaluated, we'll have a clearer picture of just how much this centre is needed."

The eight-week trial starts on Friday 15 February and finishes on Saturday 6 April. Child Youth and Family has indicated it could examine the possibility of providing funding for the centre on an on-going basis if it proves of benefit to Christchurch. The centre would then be shifted to a location in the community.

For more information: contact Councillor Graham Condon on 027 223 0249 and Robyn Moore on 941 6406.

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