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National: Security and safety must come first

John Key MP National Party Leader

22 October 2008

National: Security and safety must come first

National Party Leader John Key today announced further policy on parole, bail, and sentences for crime against children.

"I am concerned that under Labour's policy of saving prison beds, sentences like home detention and bail have become easier to get for the wrong people.

"Last year Labour changed the bail laws to make it easier for people to get bail, but too many offenders were already breaching their bail conditions, so we will reverse that change to make it harder to get bail.

"In 2006/07 more than 50% of the offenders on home detention had convictions for violent, sexual and drug offences, compared to 39% in 2001/02.

"Home detention should be available only to low-level offenders, so we will re-assess its appropriateness as a sentence for violent, sex, and drug offenders.

"These policies are driven by one concern above all others: the need to put public safety first.

"Sadly, such concern has not been at the forefront of Labour's decision-making in recent years - but National will change that."

Mr Key said National will also increase penalties for those who kill, abuse, or neglect children.

"I want to send the message that violence against children will not be tolerated.

"National will substantially increase penalties for people who cause the death of a child by manslaughter where there is a clear history of abuse or neglect.

"I am concerned that offenders who commit acts of violence and abuse against children often receive shorter sentences than if they had offended against adults.

"I was horrified to learn that the maximum sentence for assaulting a child is just two years - which is shorter than the three-year maximum sentence for wilfully ill-treating an animal.

"That is wrong and that will change.

"National will increase sentences for failure to provide the necessaries of life, child cruelty or wilful ill-treatment of a child, assault on a child, and wilful neglect, and we will direct the courts to specifically take into account the fact that the victim is a child when sentencing."

National will also give the courts the option of locking up the worst murderers for life without the possibility of parole where the most horrific offending has occurred.

National has previously announced a policy of no parole for the worst repeat violent offenders, but locking up the worst murderers without the possibility of parole will punish those who have not committed previous offences of this type but who have nonetheless been found guilty of heinous killings - such as double murderers Bruce Howse and Mark Lundy.

"This is something that neither the current life sentences nor preventive detention can provide, since they allow offenders to be paroled after a minimum period - in fact, Labour halved the minimum period for preventive detention from ten to five years, and five offenders have been paroled from preventive detention since 2002."

Mr Key also announced policies to:

* Improve checks and balances for parole by requiring prison managers to participate in parole hearings. * Require police and probation staff to meet regularly about parolees. * Help relieve pressure on district courts by increasing to $50,000 the limit at which disputes can be heard by the Disputes Tribunal.

For National's Sentencing, Parole and Bail policy go to:

http://national.org.nz/files/2008/bail_sentencing_and_parole_policy.pdf

ENDSA

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