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Research supports focus of government crime fight

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice
Media Statement

15 June 2001

Research supports focus of government crime fighting programme

Justice Minister Phil Goff says high levels of reoffending revealed in a Ministry of Justice report he released today highlights the need for the measures introduced by the government to target various areas of crime.

The report is based on research into offenders convicted in 1995.

“The research confirms the ares of concerns we have emphasised – youth offending, hard-core recidivist offenders and the fact that burglars are prone to violent offending – and justifies the initiatives this Government has announced to respond in these areas.

“Young offenders have the highest rates of reoffending. Over 70 percent of 17-19 year olds were reconvicted within two years.

“The budget last year invested $92million in programmes dealing with young people at risk of becoming offenders and this year the budget made a major investment in Child Youth and Family to tackle the causes of youth offending.

“Programmes like Corrective Training which have a 92 percent rate of reoffending will be dumped and replaced with new strategies being developed by the Ministerial Taskforce headed by Principal Youth Court Judge, David Carruthers.

“The second area of concern is hard-core recidivist offenders. Around 30% of people convicted in 1995 had more than 10 previous convictions and 80% of those sentenced to prison were reconvicted within two years of release.

“The Bail Act passed last year is resulting in more hard core offenders being held in prison while awaiting trial on further charges. The new law reverses the onus of proof, for those with long criminal records and a previous history of offending while on bail. Instead of the police having to persuade the courts that such people should be bailed, the alleged offenders have to prove to the courts that they are safe to be released into the community.

“The Sentencing and Parole Bill to be introduced in August will allow serious and high risk offenders to remain longer in custody.
“More effective rehabilitation programmes announced in the budget by the Minister of Corrections will also promote reduced reoffending.

“The third area of concern is the high risk of people convicted of burglary also being prone to violent offending and to recidivist offending. Around 24% of convicted burglars are subsequently reconvicted for a violent offence.

“That is why I will shortly be introducing new legislation to allow DNA testing of burglary suspects (subject to a Court procedure where a compulsion order is needed). New initiatives to make it tougher for burglars to on-sell stolen goods will also be introduced later this year.

“The research undertaken by the Ministry emphasises the need for the new approach taken by this Government.

"There are no quick-fix solutions but new initiatives targeting crime prevention especially for youth offending, bail reform and sentencing and parole are critical to addressing recidivism and protecting society”, Mr Goff said.


NB: The report will be able to be viewed on the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.govt.nz

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