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

Patience: Drive Safe

Be patient before passing is the AA's message for drivers this Labour weekend.

"People taking crazy risks to get past other vehicles is one of the most dangerous things on the road,” says AA spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.

“The weather is looking good for the long weekend so the roads will be busy. Unfortunately, that also increases the chances of people getting frustrated and trying a risky passing manoeuvre. When they get past, there will probably be more traffic up ahead anyway so it won’t get people there faster.” More>>

 
 

Parliament Today:

Employment Relations Bill: Govt Strains To Get Tea Break Law Through

The Government has been left with egg on its face - failing to get its much-vaunted, but hugely unpopular, meal break law passed in the first week of its new term, Labour spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says. More>>

ALSO:

Guns: Police Association Call To Arm Police Full Time

"The new minister gave his view, that Police do not need to be armed, while standing on the forecourt of parliament. The dark irony was that the interview followed immediately after breaking news of a gunman running amok in the Canadian parliament in Ottawa..." More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Tokenism Of New Zealand's Role Against Islamic State

Our contribution against IS will be to send SAS forces to train the Iraqis? That’s like offering trainers to General Custer just as the 7th cavalry reached the Little Big Horn. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Shell And Todd Caught Drilling Without Approval

Multi-national oil company Shell’s New Zealand arm and local energy giant Todd Energy have breached the new law governing New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the Environmental Protection Authority says in an Oct. 10 document released by the Green Party. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Pharmac, Gough Whitlam And Sleater-Kinney

We’re not at the outset of these negotiations. The outset was six years ago, and negotiators were hoping to have some sort of ‘framework’ deal finished in time for the APEC meeting in a few weeks’ time. These ‘extreme’ positions are what we’ve reached near the intended end of the negotiations… More>>

ALSO:

PM Of Many Hats: Questions, No Answers On Whale Oil

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader – Green) to the Prime Minister: How many times since November 2008 has he spoken with blogger Cameron Slater on the phone and how many times, if any, has he texted him?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): None in my capacity as Prime Minister. More>>

ALSO:

Aussie Investigation Dropped: Call On Minister McCully To Pursue The Case Of Balibo Five

West Papua Action is deeply concerned at the lack of any clear outcome from the Australian Federal Police inquiry into the 1975 deaths of the ‘Balibo Five’ including NZ journalist Gary Cunningham. More>>

ALSO:

'Feed The Kids' Bill: Metiria Turei To Lead Fight On Feeding Hungry Children

Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei is urging all political parties to support the Feed the Kids Bill which she inherited today from Mana leader Hone Harawira. More>>

ALSO:

Parliament Today: State Opening Of Parliament

The House sat at 10.30am on Tuesday before MPs were summoned to hear the Speech from the Throne in the Legislative Council Chamber. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news