National will give funds to victims of crime
Simon Power MP National Party Justice Spokesman
2 August 2008
National will cut bureaucracy and give funds to victims of crime
A National Government will ditch Labour's Sentencing Council and its Criminal Justice Advisory Board and give their funding - more than $6 million - to the victims of crime, National's Justice spokesman, Simon Power announced today.
In a speech to the National Party Annual Conference in Wellington today, he said both organisations were "an extra layer of bureaucracy that is not needed".
The Labour Government has allocated $5.8 million to the Sentencing Council over four years and a further $270,000 over three years for a Criminal Justice Advisory Board.
Mr Power said that unlike Labour, National would put victims' rights first.
"We will acknowledge the hurt and do what's fair. That's where our priorities differ from those of the Labour Government.
"They are establishing a Sentencing Council to draft guidelines for judges on how offenders should be sentenced. And one of the roles of that council will be to reduce the nominal length of prison sentences by an average of 25%.
"Why would anyone vote for that?
"National believes that we already have a body that tells judges how offenders should be sentenced. It's called Parliament.
"So I'm announcing today that under a National Government there will be no Sentencing Council. There will be no extra layer of bureaucracy that is not needed.
"The $5.8 million ... will be used to help kick-start the Victim Compensation Scheme and provide greater access to services for victims.
"Labour has also established a Criminal Justice Advisory Board to advise ministers on further improvements to the criminal justice system.
"Unlike Labour, National hasn't run out of ideas, so that outfit's gone as well. That's another quarter of a million dollars for victims."
Mr Power said if people wanted to know Labour's policy on victim compensation they could "always wait until September when the Law Commission tells them what it is".
"In their reliance on unelected agencies for advice, Labour has forgotten what they were elected to do."
National's victims policies include the Victim Compensation Scheme, which will cover additional expenses faced by victims and access to counselling and which will be funded also by a levy on convicted offenders, measures to improve co-ordination of victims' agencies, and the creation of a parallel 'silent' Victim Notification Register alongside the active register.
He said justice "deserves a more vigilant guardian", and National would "re-balance" the system with its already-announced policies on:
* Tackling the gangs.
* Enhancing police tools.
* Enabling the issuing of on-the-spot domestic violence protection orders.
* Changing the bail laws.
* Expanding the jurisdiction of the Youth Court and the length and range of interventions available for youth offenders.
"And you can expect to hear more on sentencing and prisons in the next few months.
"National wants to restore fairness".