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Violent crime up, prison time down

Simon Power MP National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

21 April 2008

Violent crime up, prison time down

Violent criminals are spending less time in prison under Labour, says National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

A Ministry of Justice report released last week reveals that the average length of prison sentence imposed for all violent offences (including murder) has dropped by 11.9% since 2002.

"This follows the release of crime statistics earlier this month, which showed that violent offences have increased by 12.3% in the space of a year, and by a staggering 43.6% since Labour took office in 1999.

"The public will be mystified as to how Labour's 2002 Sentencing Act could have actually led to violent offenders serving less jail time, while other offenders are staying inside for about the same time or longer.

"In 2005, Helen Clark said 'The Sentencing Act 2002 is delivering longer sentences across the board.'

"And, as recently as last week, former Justice Minister Phil Goff told Parliament that 'the 2002 Sentencing Act considerably increased sentences for the worst and most violent criminals'.

"The Ministry's report also shows that since 2002, the average prison sentence imposed for a range of violent offences has decreased, including:

* Manslaughter, down 11.9% * Kidnapping/abduction, down 15.9% * Attempted sexual violation, down 11.7% * Aggravated burglary, down 17.5% * Aggravated robbery, down 16.9% * Serious assault, down 7.6% * Male assaults female, down 15.1% * Assault on a child, down 16.7% * Threaten to kill/do GBH, down 14.1%

"Labour needs to stop its obsession with reducing the number of prison inmates and actually take a look at whether it's putting public safety first."


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