A programme is being piloted in South Auckland to help 450 young offenders gain a full driver licence, improving road safety and reducing offending.

“Gaining a driver licence can help young people turn their lives around, get jobs and move away from crime. People in gainful employment are less likely to reoffend,” Corrections Minister Louise Upston says.

The two-year pilot is aimed at Maori offenders aged 17-24 in the community and in prison. Maori have a high proportion of convictions for licence/regulatory offences.

The pilot programme will be delivered at Auckland Prison, Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility, and at six Community Corrections sites in South Auckland. South Auckland has the highest number of driver-related infringements for youth in the country.

“Young people who appear in court on a traffic offence have very high reoffending rates,” says Ms Upston.

The Justice Sector Fund approved $606,000 for the pilot. It will cover driving lessons, the cost of birth certificates if required, mock practical tests and all licence test fees.

An instructor will deliver the pilot at the two prisons and an external provider will work with those on community-based sentences. Tuition will include literacy and numeracy support if required, alcohol and other drug education and safer driving messages.

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