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Highest-risk offenders to stay in custody

Hon Judith Collins
National Party Spokeswoman for Law and Order
7 November 2011

Highest-risk offenders to stay in custody

National will introduce a law enabling the very worst high-risk sexual or violent offenders to be kept in custody after their sentences are finished, National Party Law and Order spokeswoman Judith Collins says.

National today announced the second part of its law and order policy which focuses on protecting communities through improving sentencing, parole and bail laws, and safeguarding families, children and the elderly.

“Public safety is being jeopardised by a small number of serious sexual and violent offenders who are released at the end of their sentences and who present a very real, current danger to the community,” Ms Collins says.

“National will introduce civil detention orders, which will allow an application to be made to the High Court for such offenders to be held in custody until the Parole Board is convinced they are safe for release.”

Ms Collins said the new orders were expected to apply to between five and 12 offenders over a 10-year period.

“These will be offenders who have been clinically assessed as being at imminent risk of serious sexual or violent re-offending – people too dangerous to be set free in our communities.”

National will also introduce screening of parole applications to reduce the number of unnecessary parole hearings.

“More than 650 parole hearings are held every year for prisoners who have not completed part of their offender plan. The chance of these offenders being granted parole at their first hearing is remote,” Ms Collins says.

“What this does mean is that their victims face the stress of regular scheduled parole hearings for prisoners who are unsuitable for release. We don’t think victims should be put through that if it’s not necessary.”

Under National’s policy, Police will be encouraged to work more closely with partner organisations and improve responses to the abuse of elderly people.

In New Zealand, organisations such as Age Concern receive around 1000 referrals each year alleging some form of elder abuse or neglect.

“Sadly, the numbers of elderly suffering abuse, such as psychological, material or financial, or physical abuse is increasing as the population of elderly increases,” Ms Collins says.

“One option is to co-locate Age Concern in Police National Headquarters alongside Victim Support and Community patrols to improve national co-ordination.”

The policy also includes:

Increasing penalties for producing, trading or possessing child pornography.

Introducing random drug and alcohol testing where being drug and alcohol-free is a condition of bail, home detention or other community sentences.

Making drug and alcohol treatment available in all New Zealand prisons and doubling the number of prisoners participating in work to release programmes. Currently drug and alcohol programmes are available in nine of New Zealand’s 19 prisons.

Visit National’s Law and Order: Protecting Communities Policy at:

http://national.org.nz/PDF_General/Protecting_Communities_policy.pdf

ENDS

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