Why a register just for those deported?

May 7th, 2013 at 7:01 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government could set up a public register of serious criminals deported from Australia, under drastic planned law changes to improve trans-Tasman information sharing.

The murder of Christchurch teenager Jade Bayliss has “really focused everyone’s minds” on ensuring the new law becomes a reality, Justice Murther inister Judith Collins told The Press last night.

It’s a good idea, and we have seen the tragic consequences of not having this info. But why not a register of all serious criminals? Criminal convictions are not private – they are a matter of public record and should be publicly available.

Documents reveal a list of pros and cons for making the details about serious criminals publicly available.

A public register could impact on an individual’s right to a fair trial if information about previous offences could be accessed.

However, that was countered by the potential for improved public safety.

If an individual is charged with a further offence, then the Govt can just remove their entry during the trial. Having a Govt register actually makes it easier to do this, than having private groups such as the SST having to run their own registers.

Last month The Press revealed Bayliss approached police with concerns about Jeremy George McLaughlin, 35, four days before he strangled her 13-year-old daughter Jade and torched their Barrington St home in November 2011.

She was unaware McLaughlin spent time in jail for killing Perth teenager Phillip Vidot in 1995 before he was deported back to New Zealand in 2001.

She was given trespass papers to serve against McLaughlin if he showed up at her home.

However, police were unable to tell her the details of the killer’s past because of constraints about what they can reveal about a person’s criminal history.

Bayliss has pledged to campaign for better access to information about serious criminals.

How heart breaking that she even asked Police, and the dumb law meant they could not tell her. Public safety must come first.

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18 Responses to “Why a register just for those deported?”

  1. Nigel Kearney (1,012 comments) says:

    What law prevents police revealing a person’s criminal history?

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  2. Redbaiter (8,801 comments) says:

    I’m not so sure knowing this guy was a killer was going to be any help.

    She already wanted him kept away from her.

    The issue is he was on the streets after killing someone in 1995, and he killed again in 2011.

    This is pretty much a standard event for a dysfunctional justice system that puts rehabilitation before the safety of law abiding citizens.

    Register or no register, this murdering coward should not have been on the streets.

    He should have been jailed for life or executed for the first murder.

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  3. berend (1,708 comments) says:

    DPF: However, police were unable to tell her the details of the killer’s past because of constraints about what they can reveal about a person’s criminal history.

    And there are still people who believe the police is there to protect them! As they say, when seconds count, the police is only minutes away.

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  4. berend (1,708 comments) says:

    Redbaiter: Register or no register, this murdering coward should not have been on the streets.

    Very true. The supposed compassion of our days is on display again. Who notices it causes far more grief? It should have been: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”

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  5. Harriet (4,969 comments) says:

    “……This is pretty much a standard event for a dysfunctional justice system that puts rehabilitation before the safety of law abiding citizens…..”

    We could just instead keep reducing the length of custodial sentances with each new medical advancement that is introduced into the emergancy room at the hospitals. And the wards.

    Afterall, that is really what has kept the murder rate lower – the value placed on the Sanctity of Life in the Health system.Who then needs a justice system – right?

    The Justice system of all things shouldn’t be excused from valueing life from being anything less than it is: Life.

    Hang them all. :cool:

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  6. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    Of course the Jade Bayliss case was very , very sad but there is one question no one will ask..Why was the mother traipsing around nightclubs when she should have been at home looking after her kids?? She brought this slagheap into her daughters life. Various commenters in the Press also mentioned that children under 14 are not supposed to be left at home alone.

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  7. Alan Johnstone (1,087 comments) says:

    Isn’t the point that offenders that have gone through the courts here are already in the system so to speak, under the review of the parole system whereas those being deported from Australia aren’t ?

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  8. wreck1080 (3,905 comments) says:

    “Criminal convictions are not private – they are a matter of public record’

    Really? If it is a matter of public record it should be very easy to find out someones convictions.

    So I looked it up — and….

    “The Ministry of Justice can provide a copy of your criminal record to you and/or a person or agency that you authorise.

    Your record lists criminal and traffic convictions and sentencing from court appearances. It does not include Youth Court charges.”

    So, it appears to me that criminal history is covered by the privacy act as you need permission from the person to obtain it.

    This is hardly ‘public record’. You probably have as much chance of getting someones personal medical records .

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  9. peterwn (3,271 comments) says:

    Nigel – privacy laws – the cops have recently been slapped with a $15,000 penalty for breaching privacy. There is something wrong with the law when if you breach someone’s privacy or allegedly defame them, it potentially cost you thousands, but if you punch a stroppy reporter disturbing your fishing in the Tongariro River it costs only a thousand (it probably would have been 500 for an ordinary angler).

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  10. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    When we hire staff we ask them to complete a form so we can request a criminal check with the Ministry of Justice.

    But the whole process is a joke as it takes the Ministry of Justice 4-5 weeks to process (in breach of the OIA 20 working day requirement), and they are so far in the dark-ages that they will not accept e-mail requests – they won’t accept a photocopy, only the original form, so it has to be posted to them in Wellington, and they wont e-mail the result, but insist on posting it in the mail, so the mailing alone each way adds another week to the delay.

    Oh, and if someone does have a disclosable conviction the Ministry of Justice will tell you, but they wont tell you what sentence was imposed!

    The existing criminal checking system is already a disgrace. They need to fix that first.

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  11. wf (441 comments) says:

    Given the leakiness of the internet, I can completely understand the MoJ’s position, except that I don’t see why they couldn’t say “never heard of him” in an email.

    I’d prefer a website with a publicly available factual list of criminal convictions and current state of liberty/parole etc.

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  12. Nigel Kearney (1,012 comments) says:

    The facts around the $15,000 payout are not clear but I thought there was an alleged breach of name suppression.

    I still don’t think there is any legal reason the police could not disclose the convictions in this case, especially to someone who had an obvious interest in knowing about them. The names of drunk drivers are in the paper so disclosing that someone is a convicted killer to the person’s unwitting ex-partner doesn’t seem like a problem. More likely the police have an internal procedure that is unnecessarily restrictive or the cop just got it wrong.

    But I do agree that we have gone mad about privacy. It should be mostly related to medical issues. The EQC situation borders on life imitating the Onion: “A severely traumatized Christchurch man can no longer sleep at night knowing a total stranger may be in possession of information about the state of his house repairs.”

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  13. Alan Johnstone (1,087 comments) says:

    “This is hardly ‘public record’. You probably have as much chance of getting someones personal medical records .”

    You can’t ask the state about a specific person and rightly so for all but the most serious crimes I think.

    However, court records are public, I’m surprised that the SST doesn’t have a searchable database of offenders, all you’d need would be some volunteers to get local court records each week and upload them and make it searchable on the web.

    Kinda like Deborah Coddinigton did with her sex offenders book.

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  14. wreck1080 (3,905 comments) says:

    @alan Johnstone:

    So you think it is OK if someone uploads all court records and we can search on that , but not to go straight to the justice dept?

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  15. Alan Johnstone (1,087 comments) says:

    Of course it’s legally ok, because it’s a matter of public record. That’s a matter for the people doing it, I never gave an opinion on the correctness of it, just expressed my surprise that the SST don’t do it.

    My personal opinion is that criminal convictions should be searchable by the public, for minor crimes, if you can go two years without repeating you should be wiped from the system. Clean start.

    Any person convicted of a crime that features serious fraud, excessive violence or is sexual in nature should remain up for ever.

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  16. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    The problem with databases is people don’t always stay put. Which poses potential problems for new occupiers of a property (being mistaken for a criminal who used to live there when convicted).
    Likewise, if an innocent person has the same name as a former offender from years ago…

    The big concern is that it can simply drive offenders ‘underground’ – they change their names and move, so even the police can’t keep track of them.

    Plus what do you actually do if you do find out the guy over the road has a conviction for whatever? Didn’t McLaughlin kill Jade Bayliss while burgling the house? He wasn’t invited in for tea. And he couldn’t be arrested before he committed a crime, simply on the grounds he had previous convictions elsewhere.

    Maybe if NZ could refuse to have serious offenders back from overseas in the first place…

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  17. KevinH (1,227 comments) says:

    Sadly for Jade Bayliss, her concerns regarding Bayliss were not taken seriously, consequently resulting in her murder and unfortunate premature death.
    In this case there has been a failure within the criminal justice system where information and advice was not exchanged or adhered to and someone has to be held accountable for this failure that cost this young woman her life.
    At least as a minimum, Bayliss should get preventative detention for life having established his propensity for extreme violence while executing his criminal tendencies, and also an inquiry into the failure of the criminal justice system associated with this case should be undertaken.

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  18. backster (2,171 comments) says:

    Nigel K……..The restriction on disclosing criminal convictions probably arises through use of the Computor System and the Regulations and General Instructions surrounding it. Misuse is now regarded as a virtual sackable offence. The overseas conviction probably wouldn’t appear on an NZ rap sheet anyhow, though information may have been received at Police HQ (Interpol) at the time he was repatriated.
    Getting the complainant to serve her own trespass order seems slack and dangerous.

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