PREAMBLE:

The government must do all within its power to uphold justice by protecting the citizens of New Zealand from the criminal activity of the few, and to minimize the existence of such activity. The Conservative Party believes justice is best served when the victim and the community can see that the perpetrator has received just consequences for their crime.  Victims’ rights should come before criminals’ rights. There must be a move towards Personal Responsibility.

With Justice, prevention is better than cure. The Conservative Party believes that a good justice system must focus on helping people avoid getting to a situation where they require preventive detention.

One key way to reduce the prison population is to encourage long term, committed marriages. Children raised in that environment are far less likely to be involved in crime and substance abuse. The other key prevention is investment in education. Schools are the most influential government department when it comes to reducing crime.

Young people involved in education have significantly better outcomes than those who drop out of school.

To utilise the best from education it would need to:

  • Provide earlier trade streaming. From year 9 those students with the skills for the trades should be encouraged to chase a promising career that allows you to earn while you learn and provides immense transferrable skills.
  • Provide relationship training so that young people learn how to communicate effectively and how to develop and maintain quality relationships.
  • Address Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and drug and alcohol abuse which severely limit people’s ability to feel remorse and empathy, and these people need to be identified early and additional support provided.

For those who continue on a criminal pathway, other interventions such as Youth Boot Farms (see separate policy), education diversion and reparation should all be used to divert offenders from incarceration.

Rehabilitation must become the major focus for those who are imprisoned. The Conservative Party would look seriously at a 3-stage prison system: 1) Discipline, 2) Education/training, 3) Open Prison, with this final step being working open prisons where the prisoners start working and interacting with the general public.

SHORT POLICY SUMMARY

POLICIES

The Conservative Party is committed to:  

Long term solutions: Reducing crime by strengthening the natural family unit. Research shows that children raised in healthy, loving, family environments become the greatest contributors to society and are the least likely to commit crime. The best long term strategy, therefore, to reduce offending, is by strengthening the family unit.

*  Early intervention: Early Intervention is a key component of our policy and is covered under our Youth Crime Policy. (click link)

*  Reducing Truancy: Restarting a truancy department at schools to release police to focus on more serious crime.

*  No underage sexual connection: The Conservative Party would uphold and enforce  section 134 of the Crimes act. Organisations that encourage the breaching of section 134 would be liable to prosecution and lose any government funding.

*  No Home/Workplace Invasion:  Ensuring that New Zealanders feel safe in their own homes or workplaces. Expand the scope and usage of Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPT) in communities. Freeing up police time for NPT by re-allocating peripheral cases, credit card fraud, and motor vehicle transfers/ownership, truancy etc, to the responsible authorities.
We are committed to ensuring that those who perpetrate crimes such as home or workplace invasion should face severe penalties, (with well known minimum prison sentences), with significant increase if the residence or workplace is occupied.

*  Rehabilitation: The Conservative Party believes that the last third of a prisoner’s sentence (if they have met all educational/social requirements of their prison sentence) should be in an open prison environment where they can integrate into society under supervision until the end of their sentence.  When a prisoner leaves the 3-stage process, they need to be closely monitored to ensure they are ready, supported at every step of the process, and given additional incentives such as further education if required. Ensure adequate funding for NGO’s who support reintegrating prisoners into society.

*  Sensible Sentencing:  

  1. Look at introducing a Sentencing Council in New Zealand, in a similar way to the United Kingdom, to review/recommend sentencing parameters.
  2. Ensuring that at least two thirds of the sentence is completed, and all pre-conditions must be met before parole is considered.
  3. Cumulative sentencing should be the default. We believe that where someone commits a number of crimes, for which they are convicted, the perpetrator should be made to serve each sentence sequentially. It is unjust, particularly when the crime is violent or that of a ‘white collar’ nature, that those who are convicted should be able to serve their sentences concurrently, with a maximum term equal to life imprisonment.
  4. Investigating and increasing the sentences of those found guilty of ‘white collar’ crimes. We do not believe our current legal system adequately addresses the destruction that is caused by those who perpetrate frauds, many of which have resulted in their victims losing everything they had. We would review the Criminal Proceeds Act 2009 to facilitate easier and quicker repossession of assets and funds taken through white collar crime, including a retrospective audit into all businesses, accounts, and trusts connected to the perpetrator. We will work to find a cross-party consensus to this issue.

*  Effective and appropriate Parole: Increase the criteria upon which parole boards can keep prisoners in prison. At the moment – the “serious threat” guidelines do not work.

*  Reviewing Plea-bargaining:  Investigate the impacts of plea-bargaining on justice in New Zealand.

*  Restorative Justice: The Conservative Party would encourage restorative justice, with no allowance for discounting sentencing.

*  Reviewing Bail:  Investigate/review the bail system. We believe there is too much crime that occurs when people are out on bail. We would ensure that bail bonds become mandatory and are set with review of individual circumstances. We believe that severe consequences should be handed down to those who commit crimes while on bail, as this is a further breach in trust, committed by those who have already let down society;

*  Educating Prisoners: The second part of a prisoner’s sentence should be completing a certain amount of educational papers, these would have to include numeracy and literacy. These should be set in consultation with the prisoner and should relate directly to the likely employment the prisoner will find once their sentence is completed. Completing trade theory papers would fall into this category.

Prisoners with longer sentences may be able to complete vocational training in the third stage of their sentence as a good behaviour incentive. This would enable greater employment opportunities at the completion of their sentence.

Prisoners working:  We believe that prisoners should be working in meaningful and profitable work while in prison. The first stage of their sentence would include work, and they can’t move to further stages unless engaged in work. In the “Open Prison” stage (stage 3), wages earned should be used to recompense victims of their crime. Other funds should go towards the cost of their incarceration and rehabilitation;

Raising the drinking age:  Ensuring that more of the recommendations from the Law Commission report ‘Alcohol in our Lives: Curbing the Harm’ are implemented , including raising the purchasing age and drinking age to 20 years old. Encouraging responsible attitudes to the promotion, sale, supply and consumption of alcohol; increasing the excise tax to help pay for the huge costs associated with the misuse of alcohol, and reviewing the current accessibility of alcohol;

A User Pays system:  Imposing the true cost involved in a drink/drug driving offence including, but not limited to, police time, medical costs, all court/legal costs,and testing costs on the offender.
In addition, billing those that are hospitalised through alcohol and/or drug related incidents, including use of ambulance – which can be paid to St. John’s;

Drug testing:  Providing Police and Corrections with the necessary powers and authority to drug test offenders on Probation, Home Detention, and Bail.
Police can conduct drug and alcohol testing when they suspect an offender has committed an alcohol or drug fuelled violent assault;

Reinstating Drunk and Disorderly:  Reinstate/reinforce Drunk and Disorderly as a criminal offence;

Utilising Police footage:  Allow the footage from Police body cameras and taser’s to be accepted as evidence;

Appropriate Fines:  Make fines a minimum of twice the costs of damages or thefts, and used to compensate the victim, and court costs to be actual costs wherever reasonably practicable. For example, someone running out on a meal account would have to pay the restaurant twice what they owed plus the cost of the court time;

Reducing court backlog:  Explore options to reduce the backlog of cases and help speed up current processes.

Instant fines for Misdemeanours:  Reviewing the list of minor misdemeanours and introducing instant fines.

Reducing loopholes: Loopholes do not make someone innocent of a crime. Legal technicalities must be treated separately to a conviction.

Increasing police numbers:  Police numbers to be based on a 1:400 ratio over time. In addition, extra Police numbers in rural areas where large geographic areas need to be better covered. Neighbourhood Police Teams to ‘walk the beat’ around communities identified with high criminal activity, and around shopping centres, dairies and liquor stores;

Opposing Cannabis use/legalisation:  The Conservative Party believes that cannabis must remain illegal. Legislation and penalties for cannabis cultivation, distribution and personal use to be tightened up, and increased. The detrimental effect of this drug is well researched and documented. Police leniency on those found using cannabis is not helpful; it in fact reinforces the incorrect belief, that cannabis is harmless. Heavier sentences particularly need to be handed down for cannabis cultivation, and the manufacture and distribution of illegal synthetic drugs;

Empowering police: Police have been disempowered and are now subjected to verbal and physical abuse including spitting, swearing and hitting with no recourse. We need to look at ways to re empower police to deal with minor misdemeanors instantly and efficiently.

Opposing decriminalisation of Abortion: Abortion involves a victim and a perpetrator and the victim’s rights have been ignored for too long. This is a matter of justice. A woman’s choice is also a matter of justice, but in all cases apart from rape, choices were made that led to pregnancy and the existence of another life that has equal rights. Choices result in consequences, and the cost of this should be carried by those who made those choices, not by innocent participants.
Our full Abortion Policy can be seen in our Family Policy.

*  Reducing youth crime:  A tougher stance on youth crime, especially for first time offenders, as a way of deterring them from any future criminal activities. This would include a major review/overhaul of the Children and Young Persons Act 1989.

Our full Youth Crime Policy and Boot Farms Policy can be found on our website:

           www.conservativeparty.org.nz