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Speech: Ryall - Secure Communities

Tony Ryall

Minister of Justice

SECURE COMMUNITIES

(Words approximately 2300)

Check against delivery

WHEN this young man was one year old, his parents were involved in a car accident in which his mother was killed.

After his mother was killed, he lived with his aunt and had no contact with his father.

At age 9, he was reportedly caught stealing women's underwear.

At age 13, he was made a ward of the state and began living in foster homes.

He was sexually abused.

At age 21, he joined the army.

He was discharged from the army 18 months later and shortly after joined the Highway 61 gang.

He committed his first sexual attack in the mid-1970s when he was about 22 years of age.

He admitted that offence at the time and was sentenced to 4 years jail.

On July 3 of last year, he was sentenced to preventive detention with a minimum non-parole period of 22 years.

He was guilty of multiple sexual attacks on women over a 9 year period.

He is ? Malcolm Rewa. Predator. Convicted serial rapist.

This man destroyed the lives of many women and families.

He scared their futures. He stole their peace of mind.

I can't help wonder what a great deal of suffering and anguish could have been avoided if that young man could have been saved from a life of crime.

You know, we have achieved a great deal in New Zealand.

We have done a lot. But now is the time to do more.

National Governments have been busy on law and order. I want to salute the work of my esteemed predecessor Doug Graham.

Sir Douglas will leave parliament with an enviable record of achievement. Conservative policies which have delivered results.

We introduced penal reform with the introduction of non-parole periods;

Sentences for the worst offenders are getting longer, and parole has got a lot harder to get;

We have increased penalties for rape - Labour voted against that.

Just last week we increased penalties for thugs who invade the sanctuary of our homes and commit violence - Labour voted against that too.

At least they are consistent at one thing.

Labour consistently talks tough but votes soft.

They talk a lot about protecting women, but their votes in Parliament never match the rhetoric.

National has a four point plan to continue to reduce crime.

· early intervention

· crime prevention

· more police

· tougher sentences

We will continue to support community crime prevention initiatives.

National believes strongly in local solutions to local issues.

And, we should salute the crime prevention effort being made by the 61 Safer Community Councils up and down the country.

These are true partnerships between law enforcement and the community.

That's what community crime prevention is all about.

We do not believe suits in Wellington, and especially in Parliament, have all the answers.

Apart from strong families and communities, there are two things that reduce crime.

The fear of being caught and the fear of punishment.

Remember this?

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Well, let me tell the Radio Pacific family this:

We have delivered those new Police.

We are increasing the odds of crooks being caught.

And, we are making sure the punishment fits the crime.

We have put more Police on the streets.

By this time next year we will have an all time record 7000 sworn Police.

This is 900 extra on 1990, and is in addition to the traffic merger staff.

Labour cut Police when last in office, and they are still uncommitted to the Police.

There is not one mention of the New Zealand Police on their little credit card.

Through the Police Review and other initiatives these extra Police will be on the streets, not stuck behind desks.

And, we are supporting the Police Commissioner in his initiatives to focus the Police on crime reduction.

This focus on crime reduction is one of the keys behind New York's stunning success in reducing crime.

There, they aren't concerned just about the arrest rate.

Their number one priority is to reduce crime.

And they hold the District Commanders accountable for that goal alone.

Clem Simich has led the way by freeing up Police resources, allowing the District Commanders to meet local needs.

This is the basis of what we have been going through in this country over the last year with the Police restructure.

I know some New Zealanders feel that the police are always tied up with serious, 'high profile' crime, while thieves and burglars who make people's lives miserable are untouched by the law.

I know from personal experience of the violation that victims feel when a stranger has breached the sanctuary of our home.

Burglars steal not only property, but also our feelings of security.

National has made catching burglars a priority for every officer.

The Police are working in teams to focus on breaking burglary rings and bringing down career criminals

We know this New York style approach works.

There are a few parts of the country bucking the general downward trend in burglary.

That's why the Prime Minister has given the NZ Police eight new hot-spot teams of ten officers and two intelligence support staff.

These new Targeted Enforcement Teams will focus on burglary 'hotspots', adopting the successful team approach.

While I don't want to oversell this, latest statistics show an overall drop in the crime rate of over three percent between 1997 and 1998.

While modest, it comes on top of a two percent drop the previous year.

The rate of burglary per head of population is coming down too.

But, it's still too high and that's why National makes burglary a priority.

So why is the clearance rate only 11 percent?

Well, its been at that level for 50 years.

Police tell us that when crooks get arrested they only admit to 5 or 6 break-ins when they have actually done 50 or so!

So, although many burglaries stay on the books as "unresolved", the offender responsible may actually be behind bars for other crimes.

Our communities can feel justifiably proud of the New Zealand Police.

Our Party's record shows we are prepared to toughen sentences for the worst violent offenders who threaten our communities.

But, we must not lose sight of the future.

We must not focus so completely on the crime and criminals at hand, that we neglect trying to save young vulnerable New Zealanders from becoming the hardened criminals of the future.

I am certain that our best long-term weapon against crime is early intervention.

We now know that the effectiveness of intervention very much depends on the young offender.

Our youth justice system is working well for most young people who get into trouble a couple of times.

But then there's the hard-core 10 percent.

The ones for whom the system has most trouble dealing with.

Neither soft hearts nor big sticks will stop some kids from offending.

I want to salute the work of my friend Roger Sowry.

As Social Welfare minister he has led a visionary plan to give judges and child welfare services more options in dealing with persistent young offenders.

Labour scrapped virtually all options for dealing with persistent young offenders.

Except one. Sending them back onto the streets.

Roger Sowry's plan is the better alternative; seeing us build new secure facilities for these hard-core young offenders, with a focus on changing their criminal tendencies.

His work is making it easier to deal with these troublesome young people.

And Clem Simich is complimenting this work with a network of seven new youth prisons, which will also give judges more options for dealing with persistent offenders.

This will keep vulnerable young men away from adult inmates and enable us to target programmes at kids of that age.

To save this generation of young people, we must send the message back to our homes, neighbourhoods and schools that if you break the law you will be held responsible for your actions.

Young offenders must learn discipline, respect and responsibility for their actions.

For many it will be the first time anyone has taught them these fundamental values.

The reason the Government is having to do this is because other people in these kids lives have failed them.

Too many people in the system want to make excuses.

Well, young offenders need to know that there is a risk/reward ratio.

Our job is it make it clear and certain in young people's minds that the risks really do outweigh the rewards.

Roger Sowry's facilities and Clem Simich's new youth prisons will reinforce this message.

At the same time New Zealanders want to know that we are doing all we can to save young offenders from a life of crime.

This too is vital and must go hand-in-hand with other initiatives such as Strengthening Families.

By setting boundaries these young people will see that someone cares about them.

Young people need self-respect, esteem and to know they are valued.

John Rowan and his Taskforce have done a remarkable job. They?ve told us where more work needs to be done.

We plan to do much more.

National is working on a new plan to deal with repeat young offending.

National will give judges and the Police more powers and options to deal with repeat young offenders.

Our approach to juvenile crime will emphasize personal responsibility.

It will not shy from making the punishment fit the crime.

National is investigating:

· Electronic Monitoring Of Serious Young Offenders.

This technology has been successfully used for adult offenders. It could be adapted and extended to serious young offenders. Electronic monitoring has the potential to assist parents, CYPFA and the Police to enforce curfews and other restrictions on the movements of young offenders. It may also help ensure they are attending school or other rehabilitation courses.

· Giving Judges The Power To Alert Parents To Their Responsibilities;

Parents are responsible for raising their children to respect others. If their children are offending because parents lack crucial parenting skills, National believes judges should have the power to require parents to attend courses offering the skills they need. Such possibilities include parenting courses, tough love involvement and communications and relationship skills. Already judges can order parents to anti-violence programmes.

· Increasing Access To Juvenile Records For All Court Types

In order for our Police, Social Agencies and Courts to make the right decisions they need access to all the relevant information. National is looking at making the records of young offenders far more accessible to the agencies and courts dealing with their offending.

· Expanding The "Youth At Risk" Initiatives That Focus On Persistent And Serious Young Offenders

In 1997 the National-led Government implemented a $8.8 million "Youth at Risk" plan. National will look to extend those programmes specifically targeted at persistent and serious young offenders.

· Clarifying The Retention Of Identification Evidence From Young Offenders

Fingerprints and other identifying information are vital for law enforcement purposes. National is looking to clarify access to such information, to assist in resolving crime.

· Inviting The Police To Start Joint Patrols With Probation And CYPS Officers

We?ve seen real benefits in the justice team of ministers working across portfolio boundaries. National wants to invite the Police and other agencies to join together in night patrols.

· Longer Supervision Orders

At present the Youth Court is limited to imposing custodial orders of not more than 3 months and supervision orders of 6 months. Experience is showing that this is often not sufficient time to deal with a young offender's problems. National is looking at giving judges more discretion to impose longer periods of supervision and to widen their conditions.

· Target Truancy

Truancy often indicates problems at home and potential youth offending. National allocated $5.5 million in this year's budget for new truancy initiatives. We want New Zealand children at school, getting the skills they need for the new millennium.

Many of these young people are the serious offenders of the future.

It is our responsibility to save them from a downward spiral of offending while we still have the chance.

If we do not accept this responsibility the crimes they commit will almost certainly become more serious as they get older.

National will create a New Zealand where we detect these at risk children early.

Where we use every available tool to save them from a life of crime.

And, where we have the courage to make the hard decisions and take the tough actions that are sometimes necessary.

We have already made taken huge steps to save a generation of at risk children.

The Family Start plan, announced in this year's Budget, will identify at risk families and give parents the support they need to raise their families right from the birth of their children.

"Social Workers in Schools" will also identify children showing signs of troubled behaviour.

These programmes are so successful they prompted Maxine Hodgson, founding director of Parentline, a child advocacy and welfare organisation, to tell the New Zealand Herald just last week:

"In seven to 10 years, all the social services are going to see a huge change for the better: It's a millennium gift from the Government to New Zealand children".

Neither soft hearts nor big sticks will stop some kids from offending.

We need to offer them more from life than crime can bring.

And, at the same time show them that they can't win in a life of crime.

Ladies and Gentlemen, National has a four point plan to continue to reduce crime.

· early intervention

· crime prevention

· more police

· tougher sentence

We have done a lot. Now is the time to do more.

ENDS

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