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Goff launches violence action plan

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice

28 June 2004

Media Statement

Goff launches violence action plan

Using environmental design to reduce community violence is one of the areas highlighted in an action plan released today by Justice Minister Phil Goff.

Safer Communities: Action Plan to Reduce Community Violence and Sexual Violence outlines the Government's current and planned initiatives to reduce violence. It identifies how to fill gaps in current initiatives, and emphasises prevention, early intervention, and the development of local-level responses.

"Violence is a problem that is of concern to everyone. It is physically and emotionally damaging, and it provokes fear," Mr Goff said.

"This Action Plan moves beyond traditional law enforcement to look at ways of intervening earlier to prevent sexual offending; ‘designing out crime’ by managing the physical environment, and by forming a national taskforce that will highlight the part local councils can play in creating safer communities.

"One key initiative is promoting greater use of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) techniques, which focus on the planning, design and management of streets, walkways and public places to cut crime.

"Use of these techniques overseas shows that something as simple as improving street lighting can reduce crime in an area by as much as 20 per cent. Crime can also be reduced through a better layout of buildings and pathways to remove narrow alleyways and cul-de-sacs."

The Ministry of Justice is hosting seminars this week on Crime Science and CPTED, headed by Professor Gloria Laycock, a world leader in Environmental Crime Reduction and Director of the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science in London, and Inspector Tony Lake from Queensland Police. Both are in New Zealand for an international meeting on environmental criminology and crime analysis, which is being held in Wellington on 1-4 July.

Mr Goff said the government would be encouraging local councils and the private sector to use CPTED principles in their planning and design, while training and accreditation in CPTED would be offered to design professionals.

"The Taskforce will take the lead in developing solutions to violence in public places. This will see, for example, local councils, Police and other agencies working together to make changes to public places that often become alcohol-fuelled flashpoints, such as busy streets where drinkers pass between pubs and clubs, and places where crowds gather and compete for services such as fast food and taxis," Mr Goff said.

"Solutions might include redesigning public places to accommodate better crowd flow; businesses and councils cooperating to ensure there are enough transport options, and that food outlets and taxi ranks are appropriately located; and police ensuring that licensed premises adhere to the law.

"The Taskforce will also oversee a review of local responses to liquor control, which will examine current penalty regimes, and the role of agencies involved in monitoring, reporting and enforcing liquor laws."

Mr Goff said more needed to be done to prevent sexual victimisation and to intervene earlier with offenders. Such work would build on government initiatives to better manage high-risk convicted sex offenders, such as through the Extended Supervision Bill, which should be passed by Parliament this week.

"The Action Plan sets out steps to identify new techniques for the early identification of offenders, as well as the need to consider new services for victims and new treatment options for a wider range of offenders.

"To ensure a more comprehensive response to sexual violence, which is not the sole responsibility of any one government department, the Ministry of Justice is bringing together a group of relevant agencies to take ownership of the issue.

"This move – particularly its emphasis on prevention and early intervention – has the support of people such as John McCarthy from the SAFE Network that runs treatment programmes for sex offenders," Mr Goff said.

Copies of Safer Communities: Action Plan to Reduce Community Violence and Sexual Violence is available from the Ministry of Justice.

ENDS

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