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New Safety Focus A Priority

Under new legislation sentencing judges, Parole Boards and Probation Officers will have more tools at their disposal to keep the public safe, says Minister of Corrections, Matt Robson.

Today he released the Internal Audit Report on the parole management of Nikora Turner who killed his partner Milly Tipene while on parole.

Turner was released from prison in June 2000 after serving a sentence of fourteen months for assaulting Milly Tipene.

The report finds that the probation officer acted with integrity, but highlights areas where management of high-risk offenders needs to be improved.

It finds that although Turner breached the conditions of his parole, a decision was made not to recall him to prison because his final release date was imminent. In the meantime Milly Tipene was killed.

Some of the problems identified in the report will be addressed by the new Sentencing and Parole Bill, says Matt Robson.

“Sentencing judges will have the legislative support to prioritise community safety, and the safety of the victim. It is likely that violent offenders like Turner will now receive longer sentences.

“The new Parole Board will also be able to issue an interim recall order if parole conditions are breached. This will speed the return of the offender to custody.

“Also, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offender has breached his/her release conditions, the Probation Officer or police will be able to arrest the offender immediately.

“That removes the offender from society straight away and protects those at risk.

“Parole Boards and probation officers are easy targets when a tragic crime is committed by an offender on parole. The truth is governments have not given judges, parole boards and probation officers adequate tools to protect the community – until now.”

“When I was first notifued about the offence in November of last year I instructed the Internal Audit group to investigate.”

Since last year, some areas have been addressed. The Department has introduced a more intensive sentence management regime for high risk offenders as part of the new IOM programme (Integrated Offender Management scheme).

Probation officers and their managers are now required to monitor the case management of high risk offenders on a weekly basis. There is now zero tolerance of non-compliance.

“This case has highlighted the complexities of domestic violence. It’s for the government and the community to take responsibility to work through these complexities and reduce domestic violence.”

The government is in the process of implementing a Family Violence Plan of Action which was released in September of this year.

“No government can eliminate all examples of this kind of violence, but we can implement practises which reduce it to the minimum,” says Matt Robson.


Ends

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