An international law and order expert says successive New Zealand governments are to blame for the “scandal of the century” – a raft of offender-friendly legislation.
In his newly released book, Badlands, NZ: A Land Fit for Criminals, former English National Criminal Intelligence Service analyst David Fraser says politicians should look back on their actions with shame.
“The record of all governments in New Zealand since the 1950s in relation to crime prevention has been disastrous,” Fraser writes.
“The fact is that all governments since then have gone out of their way to introduce policies that have encouraged criminals to become more criminal.
“Almost every piece of criminal justice legislation passed during the period has made it easier for judges to avoid sending criminals to prison, by expanding the number of non-custodial alternatives available to them.
“In addition, other acts of parliament, as well as procedural and administrative changes, have put numerous obstacles in the way of finding, arresting and convicting offenders.”
Fraser spent 24 years working in the UK’s Probation Service and visited New Zealand in 2007 to promote his first book, A Land Fit For Criminals: An Insider’s View of Crime, Punishment and Justice in the UK.
He became concerned about the nature of offending in New Zealand, and has since spent the past three years researching crime rates and law and order changes.
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The Sunday Star Times (24 April) report by Neil Reid
He argues while politicians have overseen law changes that have been criminal-friendly, in too many cases they have shown scant concern for the wellbeing of the victims of their crimes.
He cited how in 2003 Prime Minister Helen Clark visited the family of a boy injured in a dog attack, and politicians promised to introduce tough new laws and give dog control officers greater powers. But he said the same response wasn’t made towards the victims of serious crime.
“No minister visited the family of Lynne Baxter who, while out jogging, was murdered by being deliberately run down, repeatedly stabbed, and whose head was crushed with a concrete tile,” he said.
“There was no similar ministerial response when Faletoi Kei, who was picnicking in the park with his family, was stabbed to death after offering food to his killer.”
He was also highly critical of the justice system’s stance towards young offenders, with more than half dealt with outside the formal court system. Fraser argues that policy was “one of the ingredients of New Zealand’s burgeoning crime problem”.
These criminal apprentices, the adult offenders of tomorrow, are helped and encouraged on their way by a system financed by the very public it victimises and then abandons,” he said.
Fraser labelled as a myth claims from government and opposition MPs that New Zealand was tough on crime, especially when New Zealand has “the second-highest imprisonment rate in the western world”.
Figures he has published show 15 European countries are tougher than New Zealand on the basis of how many people were imprisoned per 100,000 crimes recorded, and he said a British government document comparing imprisonment rates in 22 European countries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, showed New Zealand was the “fifth most lenient” state.
Francis has dedicated Badlands to the “families bereaved by criminals, and all other victims of crime”.
Badlands, NZ: A Land Fit for Criminals (Howling At The Moon Publishing), is on sale now.
– Sunday Star Times