Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Clean Slate Act to help 500,000 Kiwis

Clean Slate Act to help 500,000 Kiwis


The Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act comes in to force on Monday, allowing hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders with minor convictions to finally put past mistakes behind them.

The new law allows people convicted of offences that did not result in a sentence of imprisonment, and who meet the criteria, including having gone seven years without any convictions, to have their convictions concealed.

The Ministry of Justice estimates that the Act will help up to 500,000 New Zealanders, the overwhelming majority of whom committed a relatively minor offence in their youth and are now law-abiding citizens.

There are few people in New Zealand who could claim to have led totally blameless lives, yet those convicted many years ago for offences such as shoplifting have often continued to be disadvantaged by having convictions on their record. An employment expert at the University of Waikato has said that discrimination against job seekers for past offending is common.

As Minister of Justice I have received hundreds of letters on this subject. One, for example, was from a grandmother who offended when she was 15. While the offending was minor, she still feels branded as a criminal today. Another came from a man who committed a petty theft when he was 17 and has carried the stigma of a criminal record for 55 years. Others have involved offences such as removing a 'roadworks' sign, which despite being minor, still have to be listed on application forms decades later.

Many of those affected believe they have suffered discrimination in employment, accommodation, applying for hire purchase, arranging insurance, and so on. All of them feel the stigma of being branded a criminal every time they have to disclose their convictions. In these cases, the punishment is disproportionate to the crime.

Since 1986, the Police Diversion scheme has been able to deal with minor offenders without obtaining a conviction. This Act puts people with similar historic convictions in the same situation as those who have benefited from the diversion scheme.

The Act does not require individuals to lie. It simply allows a great many ordinary, and now law-abiding, New Zealanders who have long suffered unnecessary anxiety about past mistakes to no longer have old and minor criminal convictions revealed.

It is still lawful to ask someone to consent to the disclosure of their criminal record by the Ministry of Justice or the Police but if the person has a clean slate, no convictions will be revealed.

The Act is not 'soft on crime'. In fact it is fairly conservative in the conditions it sets. Comparable legislation has been operating in countries such as the UK, Canada and in some states in Australia, for up to 30 years, and most of them clean-slate convictions of up to six months' jail.

The non-custodial threshold means that no serious or recidivist offender will be eligible. The seven-year qualifying period is based on statistical evidence that shows that people with minor convictions who have not re-offended after seven years are no more likely to re-offend than those without convictions.

Other criteria require that the individual has paid court-imposed financial penalties and never been indefinitely disqualified from driving.

Anyone convicted of specified offences, such as sexual offences, is not entitled to a clean slate.

The legislation only conceals criminal records; it does not wipe them. Any further conviction, regardless of the sentence, ends entitlement to clean-slate previous convictions until all the criteria are met again, so the Act only rewards those who have permanently changed their behaviour.

Full criminal records can also be made available in special circumstances such as police investigations or court proceedings, and in relation to sensitive types of employment, such as the care of children or jobs involving national security.

Finally, because our legislation cannot bind foreign governments, the Act does not legally excuse New Zealanders from disclosing convictions to overseas authorities.

Clean Slate is automatic - people do not need to apply. Anyone who is unsure if they will qualify can request a copy of their criminal record from the Privacy Assistant of the Ministry of Justice. Information about how this can be done, and about Clean Slate, is available from the Ministry's website www.justice.govt.nz under the 'Information for the Public' section.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Farcical Elevation Of David Seymour

With the election won, it’s time to find jobs for the boy. David Seymour is the Act Party’s latest scrounger to be rewarded by the National Party, and not only with a seat in Parliament. This time around, a couple of parliamentary Undersecretary posts in education and regulatory reform have been thrown in, plus an annual salary of $175,000 while he learns the ropes. Shouldn’t Seymour at least be put on a 90 day trial before he gets his hands on that sort of serious moolah?

It would be for his own good, really. At this rate, Act is never going to learn how to make its own way in the world More>>

 

As Key Mulls Joining ISIS Fighting: McCully Speech To UN Backs Security Council Bid

It is an honour to address you today on behalf of the Prime Minister and Government of New Zealand. Our General Election took place last week - our Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key is engaged in forming a government and that is why he is unable to be here in New York... More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Cunliffe Triggers Party Wide Leadership Contest

David Cunliffe has resigned as Labour Leader, but says he will seek re-election... If there is any contest the election will have to go through a process involving the party membership and union affiliates. More>>

ALSO:

Flyover Appeal: Progress And Certainty, Or Confusion And More Delays?

Lindsay Shelton: The Transport Agency, embarrassed by the rejection of its flyover alongside the Basin Reserve, says it’s appealing because the decision could “constrain progress.” Yet for most clear-sighted Wellingtonians a 300-metre-long concrete structure above Kent and Cambridge Terraces would in no way be seen as progress… More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Cunliffe’s Last Stand

Right now, embattled Labour leader David Cunliffe has three options. None of them are particularly attractive for him personally, or for the Labour Party... More>>

ALSO:

Key Seeking 'New Ideas': Look To Children’s Commissioner On Poverty - Greens

John Key should not reinvent the wheel when it comes to ideas for tackling child poverty, and instead look to the recommendations of the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Group on Child Poverty, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says. More>>

ALSO:

'Safe To Re-Enter' - OIA Docs: Safety Is Absolute Priority At Pike River Mine

“We understand that the time it is taking to complete our evaluation of the risks is frustrating for the family members and we are trying to complete this work as quickly as we can,” Ms Dunphy says. “It is Solid Energy’s responsibility to make this decision and we will do so, once we have all the information required to make a fully-informed decision.” More>>

ALSO:

Images & Report: Mihi To Welcome Newly-Elected MPs To Parliament

The 29 newly elected MPs were welcomed into Parliament with a Mihi. Parliament’s current Speaker David Carter offered advice from his experience working in Parliament advising the MPs to work collaboratively. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Labour’s Very Bad Year

While Labour leader David Cunliffe still appears to be in denial about the extent of Saturday night’s debacle, there was hardly a single redeeming feature about the election results for the centre-left... More>>

ALSO:

General Election NZ: National Win

Election Night: With almost all votes counted National and John Key have won a third term and are close to being able to govern alone if they so choose. Key has indicated he will still reach out to form a Government with ACT, United Future and Maori Party. More>>

ALSO:

Perfectly-Timed Anniversaries: Suffrage Day Is Last Chance To Enrol

“The last chance to enrol is Friday 19 September. You can’t enrol on election day.” More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
More RSS  RSS
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news