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Locke welcomes Smith-Voorkamp charges being dropped

22 August 2011

Locke welcomes Smith-Voorkamp charges being dropped

The Police decision to drop charges against Cornelius Arie Smith-Voorkamp is a welcome move, Green Party human rights spokesperson Keith Locke, said today.

Police today dropped all charges against Mr Smith-Voorkamp who was arrested soon after the February 22nd earthquake and charged with burglary. Mr Smith-Voorkamp’s condition Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) meant he had a compulsion to take electrical fittings.

“It’s good the Police have dropped the charges against Smith-Voorkamp, although it shouldn’t have taken six months,” said Mr Locke.

“It was clear from early on that there was no criminal intent, and that Mr Smith-Voorkamp had an fixation with light fittings as a result of his condition.

“There now need to be a full review of how Police handle cases involving people with ASD from autism or Asperger’s syndrome.

“I am not satisfied with the assurance I had from Police Minister Judith Collins last month that where an arrested person displays such unusual behavior that ‘Police make every effort to manage the person’s arrest and any subsequent charging process in an appropriate manner.”

“If the Police had acted in ‘an appropriate manner’ in the Smith-Voorkamp case, they would never have proceeded beyond arrest to a charge, and would not have asked the judge to remand Mr Smith-Voorkamp in custody.”

“This is a good opportunity to put in place improvements in the way Police deal with people with ASD,” said Mr Locke.

ENDS

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