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Key's "Action Plan" on Crime Already Being Enacted

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Corrections

30 October 2008 Media Statement

Key's "Action Plan" on Crime Already Being Enacted

"Actions speak louder than words, and Mr Key's promises, never delivered in nine years of a National Government have already been substantially delivered upon by the Labour Government", Corrections Minister Phil Goff said.

"We have toughened the Bail Act, the Sentencing Act and the Parole Act, all of which have resulted in substantially more offenders in prisons, longer sentences and at risk criminals serving substantially greater proportions of their sentences," Phil Goff said.

"The proof is there for all to see - 2,500 additional prison beds and four new prisons.

"And from the late 1990s when National in consecutive budgets cut police spending and planned to cut 500 police staff to pay for their failed $100 million Incis computer system, police numbers have gone up by an unprecedented 2,500.

"Police crime resolution rates have increased significantly over the dismal levels of National's term in office as a result.

"Our actions are in sharp contrast to those of the previous National Government. National promises everything in Opposition but it has never delivered in Government," Phil Goff said.

On National's so called ten point plan,

Gangs and Drugs. Labour's record of resourcing the police to target gangs and drug trafficking resulted last year in 190 clan lab busts and 26,000 charges against gang members and associates.

The Criminal Proceeds Recovery Bill before Parliament enacts tough laws to seize all assets derived from crime and the Crimes (Penalties and Sentencing) Bill doubles the penalty (from 5 to 10 years) for membership in an organised criminal group, and makes such membership an aggravating factor in sentencing.

Labour will enact South Australia's gang non-association laws if they are effective. Youth Crime. Labour's actions against youth gangs have, as reported by Police to the Parliamentary Select Committee in August, been very effective.

Doubling funding for parenting and early intervention helps tackle dysfunctional families which give rise to criminal behaviour while a range of programmes addressing youth offenders and their families, such as Community Approach and Social Workers and Police based at schools has also been effective.

Bail. National's Bail Bill in 1999 was significantly toughened by Labour in 2000 to put the onus on recidivist offenders to prove why they should get bail rather than on the Police to prove why they should not. Recent amendments to the Bail Act clarify but do not weaken the bail laws according to a decision by Justice Heath in R v. Kahui (High Court 2007).

Parole. The new Parole Act in 2002 set out that safety of the community must be the paramount consideration in Parole Board decisions. As a result, while 51 per cent of parole applications were declined under National, now 71 per cent are.

Police Numbers. Police numbers have been increased by 2,500, reversing National's cuts, and will increase further.

DNA Testing. The requirement to provide DNA testing has been extended by Labour to cover all major crimes including burglary and the ESR has been resourced to do the testing.

Protection Orders. Labour has placed new emphasis on ensuring Police attach the same importance to domestic violence as to stranger violence, and has funded campaigns such as "It's not OK". Both have resulted in a substantially higher proportion of domestic violence being reported and acted upon.

Victims. Labour is committed to following through the Parliamentary Select Committee recommendations on compensating victims of crime having regard also to the work done by the Law Commission.

Labour has been the only Government to enact legislation increasing the rights of victims, through the 1987 Victims of Offences Act and the 2002 Victims Rights Act which have substantially expanded victims' rights. Labour also introduced a presumption for offenders to pay reparation in the Sentencing Act.

Crimes against Children. Labour has increased penalties for offenders who attack vulnerable victims such as children.

The vulnerability of the victim is now, under the Sentencing Act 2002, an aggravating factor to be taken into account in sentencing.

Prison Work and Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation. Labour in the last two years has increased the percentage of inmates in employment from 40 per cent to 51 per cent and is on track for 60 per cent by 2010.

Real work such as refurbishing old state homes has been created. More than two thirds of sentenced inmates are now in work.

Labour has increased the number of inmates doing intensive programmes for drug and alcohol addictions from 40 under National to 500 currently.

More programmes will be created in prison and in the community, with $18 million being set aside for community based work with persons at risk of offending and for post-release offenders.

"This is a substantial record in contrast to National's dismal record in Government and get tough promises made in Opposition which are never delivered upon," Phil Goff said.

ENDS


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