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Goff Introduces Clean Slate Bill

Justice Minister Phil Goff has introduced to Parliament a bill designed to allow people with minor convictions who have not reoffended to put their past behind them.

The Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Bill allows those with convictions which did not result in a custodial sentence to effectively have their criminal records sealed after a 10-year period without further convictions.

“There is a large group of New Zealanders who have committed youthful indiscretions. Decades later they are still living in fear that their convictions will be revealed, causing harm to their families, jobs and place in the community.

“People with minor convictions who are no longer offenders should be able to leave their past behind them. There comes a point in time where minor convictions are no longer of any public concern and people should be freed from the stigma of that offending and the fear of having it revealed.

“This Bill meets that need while maintaining safeguards necessary for the public interest.

“Serious and repeat offending will not be concealed. In particular specified sexual offences will be ineligible under the Bill regardless of the penalty imposed, because of the pattern of reoffending in these areas.

“Some areas of employment will also require full disclosure of past offending. This includes work involving care and protection, the teaching of children and work in the judiciary, police, prison or probation areas.

“Disclosure will also be required to be made to law enforcement agencies undertaking investigations or prosecutions and in criminal or civil proceedings before the court or parole hearings.

“The law does not and cannot change requirements by foreign states to disclose convictions for border control and immigration procedures.

“In New Zealand however any questions put to a person about their past will be not be taken to relate to spent convictions and official records will not be able to be disclosed. Penalties will apply to unauthorised disclosure of such records.

“This Bill is long overdue. It brings New Zealand into line with similar jurisdictions in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. It also finds a balance between the public right to know and the right of the individual convicted of less serious offending ultimately to put their past behind them.

“The Bill will be referred to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee with submissions called for on this and the member’s bill introduced by Nandor Tanczos on the same topic,” Mr Goff said.

Ends

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