The dividends of falling crime

October 8th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The Government’s proposal to close courts and shift registries to nearby towns is another welcome sign that crime is on the wane. One of the most intractable policy challenges for the state is starting to pay a dividend. …

Now the Courts Minister has moved to meet the reduced demand on the courts by cutting the total number of court houses and reducing others’ opening hours. Towns such as Warkworth and, on the West Coast, Whataroa, will lose their seldom-used courts and those needing their services will be required to front at North Shore or Greymouth. Whataroa had just 11 hours of sitting time last year. As well as streamlining the costs of low-use courts, the Government will move some functions online with a goal of cutting 90,000 hours of effort between court and police staff. Courts Minister Chester Borrows also talks of defendants being able to deal with the court from their lawyers’ officers by Skype. In a damp economy the need for innovative ways of saving taxpayer dollars is all the greater.

has opposed every cost reduction for the last four years, including this one.

They want to keep courthouses open even when there is not enough crime. I guess their policy is to increase crime, so that no courthouses need close.

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21 Responses to “The dividends of falling crime”

  1. fish_boy (152 comments) says:

    Then why is the government building private-public partnership prisons? Is failling crime no reason to stop gorging at the public tit if the gorging is being the government private sector cronies? What about a “peace dividend” there?

    [DPF: To replace the old crumbling prisons, and also because they are not always in the right area - ie where the criminals are]

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  2. Kleva Kiwi (289 comments) says:

    They also want to close district law centres and amalgamate them into call centres. Eg the South Island will have one based in Christchurch. This is a step too far IMO.
    Closing district court houses is one thing, but removing legal advice from people in need is a bit much

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  3. peterwn (3,271 comments) says:

    Interestingly, Oamaru’s courthouse is being made ‘part time’ only which seems surprising. Can only think that crime rate is very low and people settle their differences more readily in that neck of the woods.

    I am surprised that the proposed ‘part time’ courthouses are not closed completely and the Justice Ministry rents halls, council chambers, etc as needed ie ‘car boot’ judges – as long as wired or wireless broadband is available the judge and clerk only need their laptops. Skype appearances could also be an option. Also JP’s could do initial ‘hearings’ at the police station when someone is arrested.

    There is another source of inefficiency – eg when Whale was charged with contempt a few years ago, he was required to report to court during the Christmas ‘dead’ period – he could not readily get a lawyer and nothing was going to happen at the hearing anyway – so why did the cops / court issue a summons for such a ridiculous time – it could have waited until people were back on deck.

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  4. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Ha ha ha, now I’m really laughing. You Nationals make me laugh. Pretending crime is falling. He he. And then taking the money away from the criminal justice sytem to fund some other National wet dream like National – Iwi partnerships. What a joke.

    This will come back to bite the Nats. Remember National reducing the criminal justice budget in the 90s? Perfing, closing police stations? What a disaster that turned out to be. Violent crime, serious drugs, white collar crime etc keeps on increasing. We are near the top (along with Mexico) for crime and perceived victimisation. Insurance rates keep going up – dont bother reporting it we’ve got insurance and the police wont do anything anyway.

    Another scam that wwill bite us on the backside. Why dont National rank and file intervene with these tossers.

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  5. annie (539 comments) says:

    Rates of reported crime are falling, which is not the same thing as underlying crime rates. A lot of people have given up reporting crime because, unless the item is insured and you need police paperwork, there’s no point.

    A family member had his car nicked, and got the thieves on surveillance camera, with good shots of their faces and their car. The cops told him that unless he had their car licence plate, they weren’t interested, and he should basically go away and be quiet. For instance.

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  6. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Still time to go to John Ansell’s planning meeting for those prepared to take an ative part in planning a coalition to fight the racist constitution:

    http://johnansell.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/launch-meeting-off-planning-meeting-on/

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  7. doggone7 (801 comments) says:

    So there’s not enough crime and there are too many courthouses. And someone charged this week will have their case heard in about 18 months or two years. If they’re “lucky.”

    [DPF: That is about number of Judges, not court rooms]

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  8. publicwatchdog (2,593 comments) says:

    Hi John Ansell!

    I’m VERY keen to attend a meeting of any organisation which GENUINELY supports ‘ONE LAW FOR ALL’?

    I note that you don’t yet seem to have replied to my questions relating to the application of ONE LAW FOR ALL to John Banks and Don Brash regarding their signing Huljich Kiwisaver Scheme Registered Prospectuses that contained untrue statements?

    (I do apologise if you have replied and I have missed it).

    Please advise me of the venue for this ‘planning’ meeting?

    Kind regards,

    Penny Bright

    ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’

    http://www.dodgyjohnhasgone.com

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  9. RRM (9,919 comments) says:

    I guess [Labour's] policy is to increase crime, so that no courthouses need close.

    :neutral: Really, DPF?

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  10. publicwatchdog (2,593 comments) says:

    Where are the statistics for ‘white collar’ crime?

    Are ‘white collar’ crime statistics falling?

    Oh – that’s right.

    Seems that lots of ‘white collar’ criminals don’t end up in jail.

    Seems that a number aren’t even charged – let alone convicted?

    How does THAT happen in New Zealand – ‘perceived’ to be ‘the least corrupt country in the world’?

    Penny Bright

    ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’

    http://www.dodgyjohnhasgone.com

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  11. RRM (9,919 comments) says:

    Penny –

    Why do you put apostrophes around ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’?

    To me it just looks emblematic of all these interminable passive-aggressive open letters you write, slagging people off in the hope that someone more competent than yourself will take up the cause and do something about it.
    Which is to say, it makes you look not only ineffectual and not worthy of taking seriously, but a bit feckless as well.

    Oh and Dodgy John hasn’t gone just yet. [More's the pity.] But for the sake of your own credibility as a ‘campaigner’ you might want to either
    (a.) Get rid of Dodgy John, or
    (b.) Get rid of that incorrect statement in your signature/website.

    Just a thought.

    I despair of ever having a solid political left to vote for in New Zealand ever again, when so much of the discourse seems to be driven by idiots such as yourself, Bradford, Minto et al.

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  12. alloytoo (542 comments) says:

    Where are the statistics for ‘white collar’ crime?

    They’re included in the overall crime statistics.

    The fact that they’re perhaps not as high as you would like, says more about you than the statistics.

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  13. Nostalgia-NZ (5,199 comments) says:

    [DPF: To replace the old crumbling prisons, and also because they are not always in the right area - ie where the criminals are]

    Can’t follow that later bit, which ignores that prisoners are transported to prisons regardless of where the prison is or where the prisoner comes from, also that prisons have different security ratings and that some prisoners are maximum security rating and therefore there is only a single prison where they can be housed. Another factor is the prison in the Central NI were most of the white-collar offenders go, the sex unit down south etc, so prisons specific to type of offender, public risk and so on – rather than ‘where the criminals are.’

    I think streamlining the Court process is a good idea provided that there is no impediment to either the Court or a Defendant insisting on a ‘at Court’ call over. Much of the process leading up to hearings could be dealt with without appearances. Such places as Warkworth probably don’t need a Courthouse, but it should be remembered that a ‘Courthouse’ isn’t merely a place where criminal matters are dealt with. Such things as family Court matters, trespass, civil litigation, debt collection, minor disputes, etc also goes through these Courts and it is important that people’s, across the boards, access is not lost

    Rather than being sceptical about the falling rates, and the approach now available to police to keep some offenders out of the Court system I think it has been a major and practical step forward. The information may not be available to show that such initiatives are having a medium term positive effect, but common sense would say they are.

    Such claims or interpretations such as….’ A family member had his car nicked, and got the thieves on surveillance camera, with good shots of their faces and their car. The cops told him that unless he had their car licence plate, they weren’t interested, and he should basically go away and be quiet. For instance.’ Can’t be relied upon as an overall indicator, firstly it’s hearsay and there understandably is an element of unease at what the police some times can’t do, but putting that aside it is exactly these types of situations that can be improved by the Court process not absorbing so much police time.

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  14. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Prisoners are transported to the prison of their choice. Remember the famous prisoner who – went to jail – fell,in love – married – had an affair – got moved to a prison near his mistress – divorced his wife – fell out with his mistress – then demanded and got to move back to his original prison.

    Why don’t nats spend the money on fixing the fact,that our prisons are holiday camps.

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  15. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    I am just curious Kevin , when were you last in prison?
    If the crime rate is falling so dramatically why are millions of dollars being spent on building a new prison?

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  16. cha (4,011 comments) says:

    Prisoners are transported to the prison of their choice.

    Trillion$Kev strikes again. Idiot.

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  17. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Because prisons cause falling crime.

    If you can run a multimillion dollar drug business from prison

    Smuggle semen out
    Send threatening letters out uncensored
    Have lawyers supply you contraband
    Need cell phone blockers
    Go home for Xmas

    …the list is endless and we all know it

    then there is something very very wrong with our prison system.

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  18. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Fact cha, just fact.

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  19. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    So you are all theory then Kev?

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  20. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Just making happy mischief in the post modern universe.

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  21. Adele Keyshia (39 comments) says:

    There’s no doubt that the New Zealand criminal justice system needs significant reform, modernisation and streamlining to bring it into the 21st century. What worries me is that it is also being used as an opportunity to make cuts over and above what’s needed to become a more efficient organisation at a cost to the service they are providing.

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