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ACT Calls For Zero Tolerance On Crime

Friday 22 Feb 2002

Hamilton now has a higher rate of violent crime than New York, according to official figures, ACT leader Richard Prebble said at a public rally in Hamilton today.

"You are more likely to be mugged, raped, robbed or burgled in Hamilton than New York. Those figures are from the Parliamentary Library," Mr Prebble said.

"The ACT Party supports a zero tolerance approach to violent crime. We intend to campaign on a common-sense policy on crime.

"Violent crime has increased by 8.5 percent since the Labour/Alliance coalition took office. We have seen a murder a day over the Christmas/New Year period. Palmerston North is a city being held to ransom by gangs.

"Ninety-two percent of New Zealanders voted `yes' to Norman Withers' referendum for longer sentences for violent crime. Not one sentence has increased under the Labour/Alliance coalition.

"The government's Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill actually decreases the period violent offenders must spend in jail. A violent sex offender must, under Phil Goff's Bill, be released after serving just a third of the sentence.

"Under the new law, offenders will have the right to get early release. The onus of proof as to why an offender should serve their sentence will be on the Parole Board.

"Rapists sent to jail for nine years will be out in just three years.

"Helen Clark says - and I quote - that the Bill `addresses the public's legitimate concerns about longer sentences.' This is treating the voters as idiots.

"ACT believes offenders should serve the full term of their court-imposed sentence.

"ACT is not impressed by Phil Goff's last-minute amendment that judges can now impose non-parole periods for violent crimes where the sentence is more than two years. Why should violent robbers sent to jail for two years, get out after six months and three weeks?

"Phil Goff says he expects the non-parole provision will be rarely imposed - so most offenders will get out earlier than now.

"National is taking credit for this change. Maybe they should because National also supports early release. Labour favours release after one third of the sentence, National after two thirds.

"But the public agree with ACT - let's have zero tolerance, let's have truth-in-sentencing, let's have low crime.

"ACT says it's a crime that Hamilton has a higher crime rate than New York. It's a crime to have light sentences. Four star prisons are criminal.

"Let's tell the Labour/Alliance/Green coalition we want a zero tolerance approach. We demand a tough approach to crime. We insist on Truth-in-Sentencing," Mr Prebble said.

ENDS

The rally is at Garden Place, Hamilton at 12.30pm.


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