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Burglary to be Focus of DNA Crime Busting Weapon

(Correcting - earlier version contained an error.)

11 November 1999

MEDIA STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Rt Hon Jenny Shipley Prime Minister

Hon Tony Ryall Minister of Justice

Hon Clem Simich Minister of Police

Burglary to be Focus of DNA Crime Busting Weapon

'National today upped up the ante on burglary by giving the Police the power to seek compulsory DNA samples to convict burglary suspects, giving them a powerful new weapon with which to fight burglary,' Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley, Justice Minister, Tony Ryall, and Police Minister, Clem Simich announced today.

"National has backed the Police with our targeted enforcement teams. We've backed them with our plans to cut the life blood from the gangs by stopping their illegal drug dealing, most of which is funded by burglary. And now we are taking further decisive action on burglary by putting the crime of burglary up there with the most serious of criminal offences.

'Police estimate that 40 percent of burglaries are committed by children aged 17 and under. We also know that most career criminals start out as young burglars, stealing money for space invaders, and later, for booze and drugs.

'If we can catch these young criminals early, and turn them around ' we will significantly reduce the crime rate in our communities, and stop these young kids moving through the various universities of crime that open up to them as they get older. Our early intervention investment will help, as will the new DNA powers we will give Police.

'From now on every time one of these juvenile thieves cuts their hand on a piece of broken glass or leaves a hair on a windowsill, the Police will have their DNA profile on a computer database.

'If they are picked up the Police will be able to apply to the High Court for an order to take an evidential DNA sample and test it against the DNA profile from that burglary.

'That is going to help the Police solve more crimes and, it will give sentencing judges much better information about just how many burglaries the person before them has really committed.

'In the case of adult burglars that may well mean more prison sentences. In the case of juvenile offenders it will help judges and social agencies make better decisions about how young offenders should be dealt with.

'And, National will be giving authorities many more options to deal firmly with young burglars. Already National has introduced New Zealand's first youth prison, as well as other secure facilities designed to both punish young offenders and set them straight.

'National is now investigating electronically tagging young offenders in a scheme similar to the Home Detention system. Not only will it punish young offenders by taking away their freedom, but it will also keep them in school or in training so they are better able to make a fresh start.

'Labour's softly, softly approach to criminals and offending led to an explosion of burglaries between 1984 and 1991. The burglary rate increased an appalling 25 percent under Labour.

Since then, new weapons, like our targeted burglary squads, have been making huge inroads into burglary rates. From a peak in 1992 burglary rates are down 27 percent.

'In Auckland the central burglary squad has reduced burglaries by 30 percent in just one year. We have resourced the Police for more of these squads throughout New Zealand.

'Another key initiative to combat burglary will be the new powers National will give to the Police to smash the gangs' illegal drug trade, most of which is financed through burglary and other property crime.

"National will give the Police more powers to get to the money and assets of gangs and wind up these nasty businesses once and for all," the Prime Minister said.

ENDS


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