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Police have to investigate smacking claims

Chester Borrows
MP National Party MP

2 March 2007

Police have to investigate smacking claims

Police will be forced to investigate every case where it is claimed parents have smacked their children, says National MP Chester Borrows.

He is commenting after questions in Parliament yesterday by Sue Bradford, whose Member's Bill removes the defence in the Crimes Act of 'reasonable force' against assault on a child. Mr Borrows has proposed amending it so parents will still be allowed to lightly smack their children without breaking the law.

"Police guidelines require them to investigate every case, and that will not change," says Mr Borrows, a police officer for 24 years.

Cabinet Minister Phil Goff told Parliament that police weighed up cases on 'whether it is in the public interest to prosecute' and, for an alleged assault, would consider 'the amount of force used'.

"Sue Bradford asked him what considerations the police exercise in deciding whether to 'prosecute someone for a trivial or a technical offence'.

"But his assurances in respect of police investigations of parents who smack their children trivialise the debate, and cast a shadow over her argument for removal of the Section 59 defence of a parent who smacks their child.

"Sue Bradford can't have it both ways. Smacking is either so serious we need to divide the country and change the law, or it's so trivial nobody should bother about it.

"I reject her assertion that it is a trivial matter and take the removal of Section 59 as very serious.

"Having spoken to police across the ranks and around the country, I know they are very worried about the bind a change to the law will place on them operationally.

"I've spoken to officers specialising in child abuse investigations, commissioned officers, sergeants and constables, and none of them want the legislation or believe it will have only minimal effect on their workload. I've spoken to some Crown solicitors and judges and they do not treat the prospect of this legislation lightly, like Sue Bradford and the Labour Party are doing.

"They also agree that some parents will be arrested, charged and convicted for smacking their children."


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