Crime down 30%

October 8th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Ministry of Justice has just published the latest crime and safety survey, and it has found the incidence of crime dropped 30% from 2008 to 2013, or from 2.7 million incidents to 1.9 million.

This is not based on whether crime is reported to the Police. It is a scientifically robust survey of around 7,000 New Zealanders and hence is unaffected by whether the Police target particular crimes or not.

The report is here.

Some highlights:

  • Incidents down by 787,000 over the last five years (dropped 201,000 the previous three years)
  • Household incidents down 40% and personal incidents down 25%
  • Assaults down 232,000
  • Robberies down 32,000
  • Incidence rate per 100 households dropped from 52 to 29
  • Incidence rate per 100 persons dropped from 53 to 38
  • Number of adult victims of crime dropped from 1,260,000 to 865,000

So these are great trends. As I said, this survey is far more robust than Police stats which can be affected by stuff such as policing priority decisions. The incidence rate of crime has dropped quite massively since 2008, and that is a good thing.

Also of interest is some of the data on domestic violence and sexual offending

  • 6% of women and 4% of men were victims of violence from an intimate partner during the year
  • 2% of women and 0.5% of men were victims of sexual offending from an intimate partner during the year
  • 26% of women and 14% of men have had partner violence at least once in their lifetime
  • 22% of women have had distressing sexual touching, 11% attempted rape and 11% rape

That’s distressingly high levels of rape.

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Looks a lovely fellow

September 18th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar


The Herald reports:

Damian Wereta might be locked up for the next 17 years, but it could have been worse.

The Crown wanted preventive detention — an indefinite term of imprisonment — for the 35-year-old Paremoremo inmate who “shanked” two fellow prisoners.

But this morning Justice Pamela Andrews declined the application, instead jailing Wereta for another 7 years 9 months.

The term will be served on top of the 11 and a half year stint the Black Power member was sentenced to in 2013 for a Dunedin armed robbery and a vicious attack on a group of Corrections officers while on remand.

The father of seven

Remember Labour is proudly campaigning for the rights of people who can’t afford children to have as many as they like!

has an extensive history stretching back to 1997 and features 68 convictions, including an attack on a Crown prosecutor in court.

Sounds like an ideal candidate for preventive detention.

The judge agreed but because the two counts of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm represented Wereta’s second strike, the 93-month sentence would have to be served in full without the chance of parole.

Excellent. Remember again Labour is vowing to repeal this law.

If the law had been in place earlier he would very likely be on a third strike and that means he would have got 14 years, not seven years nine months.

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Send the cops in

September 9th, 2015 at 9:57 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Protesters occupying Kaitaia Airport have forced a flight carrying five specialist doctors to be cancelled this morning.

Activists moved onto land at the airport at about lunchtime yesterday, cancelling flights into and out of the Far North, in protest against a $100 million Treaty of Waitangi settlement due to be ratified today.

The latest flight cancelled was expected to land at 8.30am with five doctors on board from Whangarei – including one dentist and one pediatrician.

The Police have no choice but to remove the protesters, unless they agree to leave in the very near future.

There are some protests where the best thing is to ignore them, because all they’re doing is sitting on a roof at Parliament, or occupying a park.

But this is a protest which has closed a vital transport hub. Residents are going without specialist health care. It is the equivalent of blocking a road. It is preventing people from going about their jobs, and their travel.

The Police need to show the law applies to all.

And what are the local MPs saying or doing? Winston, Kelvin, Shane and Mark. Do you have nothing to say on the illegal occupation of a vital transport hub.


A decent sentence

August 2nd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Three generations of women in a Gisborne family turned on a 12-year-old relative who claimed she had been sexually assaulted by her uncle, in a case that a judge said “made a mockery of notions of whanau”.

The case involved a mother and daughter forcing the girl to retract claims that her uncle had indecently assaulted her, after a jury had found him guilty.

The women, aged 48 and 29, and both closely related to the offender, have been jailed for three years for attempting to pervert the course of justice. They cannot be named, to protect the girl.

Three years is a decent sentence. It is in fact longer than the sentence of the original offender, whose conviction they were trying to overturn.

In mid-2013, while the offender was in custody pending sentencing, the two women made repeated visits to the girl’s home, where they would take her aside from her parents and tell her “what her responsibilities were”, the judge said.

They marched the girl to Gisborne District Court where, in front of a registrar, she signed a sworn retraction of her allegations. 

Judge Adeane said the language used in the retraction was certainly not the girl’s and, when she was spoken to privately by an independent lawyer, she reaffirmed her allegations against her uncle.

Throughout this time, the women were regularly phoning the offender in prison. The judge said these calls, which were intercepted, displayed the “energy and urgency” the women were putting in to persuade the girl to retract her allegations.

The women told the man they would assault the girl after the affidavit had been signed, and would get her to sign it “even if we have to kill the little beggar”.


Another relative, concerned at the pair’s actions, contacted police.

Well done that person.

The uncle was sentenced to two years and three months’ jail in July 2013, after a jury found him guilty of indecently assaulting the girl when she was aged 10-11. He was sentenced to a further year in jail for his part in attempting to pervert the course of justice.



Did the system fail or did Robertson fail?

July 31st, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

There’s an article at the NZ Herald on the killing of Blessie Gotingco by Tony Robertson. It asks and answers 10 questions on the case and concludes that the system didn’t fail.

Many killings are preventable. A wrong parole decision, a lack of supervision by Corrections etc. But in this vase the sad reality might be that Robertson was always going to do something like this.

Some of the 10 points the article makes are:

  1. Robertson was not given parole and served every day of his sentence
  2. He didn’t get preventive detention at 19 because he didn’t have a long enough history of sexual offending, and the Court of Appeal had overturned a preventive detention sentence in a similar case
  3. He was constantly monitored by GPS. Once he was telephoned within two minutes of going somewhere he shouldn’t, and arrested within 45 minutes of not responding
  4. An extended supervision order had been granted to take effect when his six months of release conditions expired
  5. Probation Service checked up on him 38 times in five months – much more than average

The only good news is that it is likely he now will get preventive detention.

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Mercy backfired

July 29th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

When Tony Robertson was found guilty of abducting and molesting a 5-year-old girl a decade ago, a judge could have locked him up indefinitely.

If he had received preventive detention then, it’s likely Auckland mum Blessie Gotingco would still be alive now.

But 10 years ago, the sentencing judge opted to show mercy towards the then-teenage Robertson standing in the dock before him – in the hope he would turn his life around while behind bars and emerge a reformed man.

But it didn’t happen.

And Blessie died.

In prison, Robertson completed no courses of treatment.

He was repeatedly denied parole because of his lack of reform.

He continued to deny responsibility for his attack on the 5-year-old girl. It was all a police frame up, he insisted.

Just as he now denies raping and murdering Blessie Gotingco – her death was an accident, and evidence of rape was planted by police, he said.

At least this crime will have a life sentence, and his denial of responsibility should mean he never gets out.

Robertson’s offending began at age 16, in 2003, and included convictions for assault, aggravated robbery, possession of an offensive weapon, wilful damage, threatening to kill, burglary and receiving.

Then came the Tauranga kidnapping, when he was 18, in 2005.

The offending took place over two days, the worst of which was on December 15.

On December 14, he attempted to lure two children into his car with promises of Christmas presents, saying he knew their mothers and would take them home, court records of the case show.

And when he was caught:

And when questioned over testimony from the other children he tried to entice, who had identified him, he said: “Maybe I’ve got a twin brother that drives the same car as mine.”

Not exactly remorseful was he.

Having been found guilty, he was shown leniency by the sentencing judge.

“You are not simply to be assumed a lost cause at the age of 19,” Justice Patrick Keane told him at that time.

The judge opted not to sentence Robertson to preventive detention – which could have kept him locked up for the rest of his life.

Crown prosecutor Simon Bridges (before he became an MP) had pushed for the tougher sentence, arguing further that if preventive detention were not meted out the sentence should be at least 12 years.

But Justice Keane said that though it was possible the kidnapping and abduction was the start of what could become a pattern, Robertson had a history of violent, rather than sexual, offending.

Sadly the Judge got it wrong. I can see why at 19 he was reluctant to  give him preventive detention, but let us hope he gets it now.

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Private prosecution dismissed

July 5th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A top principal has had assault charges against him dropped after a judge ruled he’d been the victim of efforts by his ex-wife to “destroy” him. 

Peter Clague, formerly Auckland Kristin School’s executive principal, was the subject of a private prosecution brought by his ex-wife relating to two alleged assaults in 2010. 

Jeanne Denham alleged two months after the pair married in 2010 he pushed her to the ground, causing significant bruising to her tailbone after shaking her with force, telling her to “shut the f— up”.

She didn’t lay a formal complaint until 2014 and took a private prosecution against Clague through Queens Counsel Marie Dyhrberg. 

Clague’s jury trial began in the Auckland District Court on Monday and on Friday Judge David McNaughton said he was taking the “rare” step of dismissing the charges, following an application from Clague. 

His lawyer Mike Lloyd argued there had been an abuse of the court’s process and on Friday afternoon Judge McNaughton told the jury he agreed after an “anxious” night pondering the application. 

“This whole prosecution is motivated by an intention on the part of Ms Denham to effectively destroy Mr Clague’s reputation and ruin his career, and to consequently damage Kristin School and possibly also to bring pressure to bear on him in relation to a property claim in the Family Court,” Judge McNaughton said. 

He said no properly directed jury would be able to convict Clague. 

“No useful purpose would be served to continue prosecuting that charge for what was essentially a non injury assault made five years ago, and complained about two years ago. He’s suffered enough. I’m bringing this to an end now.” 

I hadn’t followed this case closely but what I had read alarmed me. The Police are pretty good at laying charges for domestic violence, and the fact they had refused to suggested the evidence wasn’t there. Combine that with waiting for years to complain.

It is very rare for a Judge to stop a trial, but the Judge I think got it right in saying this was about utu and trying to destroy the ex.


Maori Youth Offending

October 13th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The new Minister of Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell is calling for a review of the justice system as young Maori become increasingly over represented in youth crime statistics.

Fewer young offenders are fronting the judge but young Maori are making up more of those who do pass through the justice system.

Latest Ministry of Justice figures show the number of children and young people charged in Youth Court is the lowest in 20 years. However, as the number drops, the figures show the proportion of young Maori compared with non-Maori is rising.

Six years ago, Maori represented 48 per cent of youths facing charges in the Youth Court. The latest figures reveal that has jumped to 57 per cent.

While the Government lauds the decrease in youth crime, Flavell, who is also co-leader of the Maori Party, said the New Zealand justice system continued to be stacked against young Maori.

It is important to note that while the proportion has increased, the numbers charged has decreased significantly – just not as much as non-Maori.

In the last six years there has been a 46% reduction in the number of young Maori who have been charged in court. That’s a great result. The reduction for young non-Maori has been 63% which is even larger. But if both of them are heading in the right direction, I don’t think it is a problem if one is reducing faster than the other. It would be different if both were increasing.


Hopefully the trend continues.


Latest crime stats

October 1st, 2014 at 4:14 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ and the Police released the latest crime stats today.

Here’s the change in various crime rates (per 10,000 people) since 2008:

  • Homicide rate down 39%
  • Violent offence rate down 11%
  • Robbery rate down 26%
  • Burglary rate down 17%
  • Theft rate down 18%
  • Sexual offending rate up 30%

So all but sexual offending rates are down, and that may be more due to increased reporting than a change in the incident rate – very hard to know.

Also the change over the last 18 months, since 2012:

  • Homicide rate down 6%
  • Violent offence rate down 5%
  • Robbery rate down 1%
  • Burglary rate down 3%
  • Theft rate up 1%
  • Sexual offending rate up 8%
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38 years of offending

September 28th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

With one final flourish – a one fingered gesture to the sentencing judge – Allan Ivo Greer began a sentence of preventive detention for sexual offending against teenagers.

The sentencing in the High Court in Wellington today was marked by Greer, 52, interrupting, laughing at his victim’s trauma and insults to the judge.

A lovely man, who sounds like an ideal choice for pveventive detention.

The judge said Greer had 153 previous convictions, beginning when he was 14 in the Youth Court, and had been to prison for seven years for sexual violation in 2004.

Justice MacKenzie said those offences showed disturbing similarities to the current charges.

Again, he should have been locked up for good well before now.

He said there was a high risk of Greer reoffending and he had come to the belief the only sentence was preventive detention.

He also imposed a minimum non-parole period of 10 years.

A non parole period of 20 years would be better, but I suspect he will not get out at 10 years, which is good.

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Another candidate for three strikes

September 25th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The demolition worker who choked a Dunedin man to death in a bar toilet was a “parasite” who showed no remorse in court yesterday, a grieving uncle says.

Stephen Anthony Fernyhough, 26, snapped at the victim’s supporters as he was sentenced in the High Court at Dunedin to five years in prison for the manslaughter of Ryan Court, 35, in the Craft Bar on April 27.

Details of Mr Court’s death prompted gasps and several outbursts from a packed and tense public gallery, with Fernyhough, flanked by two guards, responding “f…wits”.

“Shut up, you weren’t there.”

Earlier, the court heard how Fernyhough, who had 76 previous convictions over a nine-year period, used a choker hold on Mr Court for between 20 and 40 seconds, following a disagreement in the men’s toilet.

“Don’t mess with the wee man,” Fernyhough said as he left the unconscious man and fled the scene with his associates.

If three strikes was in earlier, and two of his 76 previous convictions were strike offences, he’d be in for 20 years, not potentially out in two years

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He would not have got out under three strikes

September 22nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A gang member with an extensive history of violence has avoided a sentence of preventive detention for the second time.

Robert Winterburn, 47, has spent most of his adult life in jail, with convictions for manslaughter and attempted murder.

When he appeared before Justice Potter in 1997, she warned him that if he ever appeared in court again there would be no option but a sentence of preventive detention.

But when the Waipukurau Mongrel Mob member appeared for sentencing on his latest raft of offences before Justice Joe Williams in the High Court at Napier yesterday, he was instead jailed for 11 years and four months, with a non-parole period of five years and four months.

The offences included rape and threatening to kill, after he drove his girlfriend to Pukehou cemetery, near Waipawa, last year, telling her she was “never going home again”. He forced her to undress because he thought she was wearing a police bug, and raped her.

If three strikes had been in place previously he would have got a life sentence with no parole for the manslaughter in 1997.  As well as the manslaughter he also stabbed another prisoner five times. I doubt he will ever not be a danger to the community and he should have got preventive detention. Three strikes means that on your third serious violent or sexual offence you get the maximum sentence without parole.

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Issues that matter – law and order

September 17th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The final of my series on issues that I think matter to New Zealanders. The other four have been the economy, health, education and welfare.



The youth crime rate has declined 36% since 2010. This is not prosecutions – but recorded offences. This is important as if you get into crime as a youth, you often stay there.



Burglaries are traumatic for those who have had their homes invaded. The rate was static under Labour and has fallen 10.4% since 2008.



Robberies are even more traumatic for victims. The rate has fallen 26.4% since 2008.



Violent crimes such as assaults are some of the worst crimes. They are also the most likely to be reported. The violent crime rate climbed from 2004 to 2009, and has declined since. It is now 15.9% lower than in 2008.



There are relatively few homicides, so in any one year the numbers may change a fair bit. But over the last four years there were 331 homicides, compared to 394 from 2005 to 2008. That is a reasonable drop.



And the reduced crime rates are starting to show in the prison population, which has been declining since 2011. There are now 235 fewer prisoners.



The three strikes law (which Labour and Greens want to repeal) has been a stunning success to date. While 3,721 offenders have notched up a first strike, only 29 have gone on to do a second strike (by end of 2013) and so far there have been no third strikes. The certainty of no parole and long prison sentences for 2nd and 3rd strikes has a deterrent effect.

UPDATE: As of August 2014 it is 4,585 first strikes, 44 2nd strikes and no third strikes.



And perhaps the most important stat of all. The reoffending rate has fallen from 32.3% to 26.3%. A focus on rehabilitation is working.

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Advice for Arthur Taylor on how he can get to vote

September 14th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Narelle Hansen writes in the Waikato Times:

News had also just broken that the criminal Arthur Taylor was fighting for prisoners’ rights to vote in the High Court. …

… here is a man who has broken the law 150 times appealing to the law for the opportunity to choose the lawmakers. It’s like a comedy. Why on earth does he care who makes laws? If his past is anything to go by he won’t be a huge fan of keeping the laws his chosen politicians make anyway.

That, really, is the core problem he has, poor bloke. An argument about rights always sounds so soulless when one refuses to uphold the responsibilities that go with them. Arthur wants cake when he has already eaten it.

The very simply way for him to have the right to vote would be to stay out of jail.


No-one would get in the way of his “fundamental freedoms”, by virtue of the fact he wasn’t getting in the way of theirs. After all, that is what committing a crime boils down to; stealing rights from our fellow citizens. We steal their right to life when we murder, we steal their right to own property when we take things not lawfully ours, we steal their right to the truth when we commit fraud. Having stolen the rights of his fellow citizens, Arthur wants more. That’s just greedy.

Labour and Greens are vowing to restore the right to vote for some, possibly all, prisoners.

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Armed dairy owners – no thanks

September 13th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

ACT says shopkeepers should be free to keep guns under their counter, but National leader John Key has dismissed the policy as “dangerous.”

Leader Jamie Whyte said today his party would strengthen the law for self-defence and ensure it is not illegal for a dairy owner to keep a weapon on the premises.

However, Key immediately ruled out implementing the policy, should both parties get back into government.
“If ACT thinks the solution is to give a shopkeeper a shot gun, that could end very very badly,” Key told reporters in Whangarei.

When I go into a dairy, I feel safer if there isn’t an unsecured loaded firearm sitting below the counter, thank you..

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All prisons to become working prisons

September 11th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Anne Tolley announced:

All public prisons in New Zealand will become full working prisons by 2017, and ex-prisoners will receive post-release drug addiction treatment if National is returned to government, says Corrections Spokesperson Anne Tolley.

Excellent. A great idea.

“By expanding the working prisons model from three to 16 prisons, every eligible prisoner will have a structured 40 hour-a-week timetable to include work experience, skills training and education, alongside drug and alcohol treatment and other rehabilitation programmes.  This will give them the skills they need to live a crime-free life outside prison.

“The vast majority of prisoners don’t want to be sitting around in their cells doing nothing. The working prisons model gives them the opportunity to learn good habits and take responsibility for their lives. And after a decent day’s work they are also more manageable for prison staff.” 

The working prisons expansion will not require additional funding, and can be established through reprioritisation of resources.

Again a great move, but surprised that so few prisons up until now have been working prisons. Good to see they are doing it with no extra funding needed.

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Franks on abolishing parole

September 5th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stephen Franks writes:

ACT and the Conservatives are making excellent criminal justice policy announcements. If both are in Parliament we might see an end to the cosy major party consensus that has fostered our high rates of serious violent and youth crime.

Garth McVicar’s announcement on parole is more straightforward than I had expected. Most criminals come up for parole at one third of their Judge-given sentence. Garth says:

“The Conservative Party will overhaul the parole system so that a Judge given sentence means what it says, 9 years will mean 9 years. Life will mean Life. The only function of the parole board will be to apply release conditions and ensure they are enforced”

So how would no parole work?

It seems that they would introduce the US Federal system introduced after 1996, when Bill Clinton reached across party lines and took the Republicans policy and ended federal parole. Instead, there is a period of mandatory supervision at the end of most sentences. 

Great! There is no evidence that parole works any better to reduce reoffending than supervision at the end of the judge-given sentence. 

I’d be interested to see data on this.

People worry that prison populations will explode. That has not been the inevitable experience elsewhere after parole has been cut back. Prison musters would likely drop after an initial rise while offenders worked out that a new sheriff had come to town. 

Some attribute the long drop in crime rates in the US, for example, at least partially to the increased deterrence of sentencing certainty. There is a good research consensus that severity of sentencing has much less deterrent power than speed and certainty of detection, conviction and punishment. Ending criminal expectation of parole dramatically increases certainty, and judges could afford to reduce sentence lengths.  

It would be logical to reduce a sentence length to take account of no parole.

But there is another reason why prison musters will not escalate nearly as much as some would theorise. Because much of the serious crime is committed by a relatively small population of career criminals, the change would  merely cancel for  those serious offenders, who accumulate records of hundreds of crimes, their brief parole excursions from prison to add to their tally. Instead they stay much longer where they cannot prey on fresh victims. 

I think this is right. A small core of criminals commit a huge amount of the crimes.

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SST analysis of three strikes

August 29th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has done an analysis of the three strikes legislation (which may be gone if the Government changes). As at the end of 2013, the stas are:

  • 1st strikes 3,721
  • 2nd strikes 29
  • 3rd strikes 0

It’s great to see so few second strikes, and that so far there have been no third strikes.

They have a profile of the 24 2nd strikers:

  • 100% have numerous prior convictions as adults. And these are not for minor offences. They include burglary, male assaults female, possession of offensive weapons, robbery, aggravated robbery, indecent assault, theft and many others.
  • 46% have prior convictions for ‘strike’ offences before Three Strikes taking effect on 1 June 2010. Because Three Strikes was not implemented ‘retrospectively’ these prior offences do not count as ‘strikes’ against their record.
  • The average age of second strikers is just under 26 years, and all but one are men. The youngest second striker is 19 years old, and the oldest 45 years old, at the time of second strike sentence.
  • 67% received a sentence of imprisonment for their first strike offence/s. Of those imprisoned, the average term was 14% of the maximum available. The average term imposed was 20 months.
  • 38% of first strikers committed their first strike offence while on bail, parole or while still subject to sentence.
  • 67% of second strikers committed their second strike offence while on bail, parole or while still subject to sentence.
  • 92% received a sentence of imprisonment for their second strike offence/s. Of those imprisoned for their second strike offence/s, the average term was 24% of the maximum available. The average term imposed was 35 months. The term imposed is served without parole or early release under the three strikes law.
  • 67% committed their second strike offence while on bail, parole or while still subject to sentence.

The fact that 38% of second strikers committed their first strike whole on bail or parole is telling.

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Will Labour abolish three strikes for repeat serious offenders?

August 26th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour voted against the three strikes legislation, and off memory were committed to abolishing it in 2011.  Does anyone know if this is still their policy? They are saying nothing publicly, which makes me suspect it it – but they know it will be unpopular, so keep quiet on it.

The Herald reviews law & order policies, yet doesn’t mention the three strikes law once. Will a change of Government mean repeat serious violent and sexual offenders continue to get parole?

Once the review was completed, Labour would consider several changes which improved the court experience for sexual assault victims. It would look at changing cross-examination rules to make sure victims were not “put on trial”. Specialist courts could be established which trained judges, lawyers and staff in the dynamics of sexual violence and dealing with victims. And the definition of consent could be amended so the burden of proof was shifted from the Crown to the accused. This provoked some public discomfort as critics felt it could impinge on a person’s right to be presumed innocent.

Yep under Labour you will be presumed to be a rapist, ad will have to prove consent, if there is no dispute that sex occurred.



Gangs and crime

August 6th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Jarrod Gilbert has written in the NZ Herald:

The Minister of Police and Corrections, Anne Tolley, has launched a ‘whole government plan on tackling gangs’.

Great, we need one and much of what is being proposed is good. She should be congratulated. What we don’t need is to over-inflate the problem. Unfortunately, in an election year (of course), this is what has occurred.

The Minister says there are 4000 known gang members in New Zealand. She says that so far this year they are responsible* for 34 per cent of class A & B drug offences; 36 percent of kidnapping and abduction offences; 25 per cent of aggravated robbery/robbery offences; 26 per cent of grievous assault offences; and consequently 28 per cent of the prison population is gang members. Sounds bad, right? If we believe what we are told, gang members make up just 0.1 per cent of the population yet they are responsible for between a quarter and more than a third of these serious crimes.

Unfortunately, I suspect it’s bollocks. More than that I’ll bet on it.

I will eat a suitcase full of carrots in front of the fine Sociology Department at the University of Canterbury if this data are correct. I’ll ask the Minister to do the same if I’m right.

Let’s look at what we can prove, because inconveniently she has used specific offences that don’t match with published data. Nevertheless, we are told that 28 per cent of the prison population are gang members. If we take the current prison population as 8500 that means 2380 of known gang members are currently behind bars. Whoa, that means 1620 free gang members are creating all of the carnage that the Minister has cited today.

Not only are the numbers wrong, they are widely inaccurate. Crazy inaccurate. If they’re not I’ll eat carrots.

Gilbert is wrong when he says the specific offences don’t match published data. As an academic, I am surprised he has not discovered the website run by Stats NZ.

He seems to disbelieve that somewhere between 1,620 and 4,000 gang members (some of those in jail will have been out during the year) could commit:

  • 25% of aggravated robberies and robberies
  • 36% of kidnapping and abductions
  • 26% of grievous assaults
  • 34% of class A and B drug offences

So what do the numbers tell us.

Aggravated Robberies and Robberies

There were 2,032 robberies (both types) last year. 25% would be 508. That seems a credible number for 1,620 to 4,000 gang members to do.

Kidnappings and Abductions

There were 198 kidnappings and abductions last year. 36% would be 71. That seems a credible number for 1,620 to 4,000 gang members to do.

Grievous Assaults

If you add up the 17 assault categories that mention GBH, there were 500 offences last year.  26% would be 130. That seems a credible number for 1,620 to 4,000 gang members to do.

Class A and B drug offences

There were 16,070 illicit drug offences in 2013. They are broken up into specific drugs and it would take a long time to do an exact count. But a previous Stats report is that less than 10% are Class A and B. So a fair assumption is 1,607 Class A and B drug offences last year. 34% would be 546. That seems a credible number for 1,620 to 4,000 gang members to do.

So on the face of it, the statistics used by the Minister do not seem incredulous.

UPDATE: I have been sent the actual stats the Minister was relying on, which are for the first quarter of 2014. They are:

  • Class A/B drug offences total 218 out of 649
  • Kidnapping and abduction 16 out of 44
  • Aggravated robbery/robbery 72 out of 284
  • Grievous assault 130 out of 506

I look forward to the Herald covering the Jarrod Gilbert eating his carrots.

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July 29th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A couple of hours trapped in grime ended Porou Wrathall’s career in crime.

Police found the skinny teenager stuck in a fatty pipe at Mr Fish and Chips shop in Langdons Rd, Papanui, about 2.30am on June 17, after they were alerted by neighbours who heard Wrathall’s cry for help.

Yesterday an embarrassed but relieved Wrathall, 18 and a first offender, told The Press the offence had occurred during a drunken moment and was “the start and end” of his criminal career.

He had just appeared in the Christchurch District Court, where his conviction for burglary was penalised with an order he come up for sentence if called upon within 12 months.

In some ways, he had already paid dearly for his stupidity. He was stuck in the greasy fish and chip shop extractor vent for several hours. A steel support was jammed between his buttocks, he was caked in fat and he was cold and sore. He then spent four days in hospital due to hypothermia and kidney problems caused by the confinement.

Heh, now that is karma. I do hope he has recovered though and learnt a lesson.


Maori offending

July 26th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The prison system has achieved little in lowering the rate of Maori offending and a century of appalling Maori crime statistics shows no sign of abating, according to an iwi justice advocate.

That is because generally the role of the prison system is to protect the community, not lower offending. Lowering offending is important, but that involves drug and alcohol counselling, education, rehabilitation programmes and the like. Some of that can be done through prisons, but again the primary role of prisons is to keep the community safe.

A joint police and iwi justice programme in Wellington that aims to reduce Maori crime statistics was presented to the Maori King Tuheitia and his pan-tribal council Tekau-maa-rua in Ngaruawahia yesterday.

Chair of the iwi justice panel at Waiwhetu Marae in Lower Hutt, Neville Baker, said the current system had failed Maori for decades and the systems needed to change.

“Maori have been incarcerated for 100 years and we are getting worse so why would we want to continue with the prison system,” said Baker.

It’s great to see a focus on reducing offending. I would point out that the trend is actually positive. The Herald reported last year:

A progress report on the Government’s crime prevention programme shows Maori youth offending down by 32 per cent over three years.

The Drivers of Crime programme, launched in December 2009, brings together crime prevention work of the justice and social sector.

The latest report shows offending rates for Maori youth between 2008 and 2012 dropped 32 per cent.

Youth offending is probably the most important to target.

There has also been a small decrease in the number of Maori in prison – a 3.6% reduction from March 2011 (4,483) to to March 2014 (4,320).

Still a huge amount more to be done, but the solutions are not as simple as just saying less prison. If an offender’s crimes are serious enough or repetitive enough, the protecting the community comes first.

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NZ First self-defence policy

July 18th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A hardline law and order policy by NZ First would offer greater protection to homeowners, farmers and shop keepers who shoot to kill intruders during home invasions or burglaries.

Along with a 40-year mandatory non-parole sentence for premeditated murder, NZ First wants the Crimes Act amended to give certainty over the use of “reasonable force” for self-defence.

Ahead of the party’s annual convention this weekend, law and order spokesman Richard Prosser said the policy was a response to a string of incidents that had seen farmers and shopkeepers in court over their use of firearms or even hockey sticks against would-be robbers.

Mr Prosser said so-called “castle doctrine” laws in some US states, which saw Texan Joe Horn acquitted after his 2007 fatal shooting of two men who had burgled his neighbour’s home, were “so over the top that it wouldn’t be something that I think anyone in New Zealand would give consideration to”.

“But what I do think people have a desire for is the ability to actually defend themselves and their families in their own homes.”

Mr Prosser wants a regime based on that introduced in Ireland in 2011 following controversy over the 2004 shooting of an Irish traveller by a farmer.

NZ First’s proposal would allow for homeowners to use “any firearm that is lawfully available to that person” to defend themselves.

It is unclear exactly what NZ First are proposing.

If they are proposing that you can legally shoot anyone illegally on your property, then I can not support that. The penalty for tresspassing and/or burglary should not be death.

If they are proposing that when a homeowner has a genuine fear for their safety, or their families, then they can use firearms for self-defence – I can back that. But shooting someone in the back, as they are leaving, is not self-defence (for example).

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A restorative justice case backed by Garth McVicar

July 15th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The hardline Sensible Sentencing Trust has come out in support of a judge’s decision not to jail a drink-driver who killed a New Plymouth woman.

Hogan Bolton, 31, of New Plymouth, was sentenced on July 4 to nine months’ home detention following the death of artist and mother Carmen Rogers after she was hit in Brougham St on May 6.

His breath alcohol was 1297mcg. The legal level is 400mcg.

As well as making a $50,000 emotional harm reparation to the family he has agreed to appear in an anti-drink driving documentary.

The sentence, worked out through the restorative justice process, has reignited debate on the futility of imprisoning offenders rather than focusing on more effective alternatives.

Yesterday, Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar said he was supportive of Judge Allan Roberts’ decision.

“Normally I’m not a big fan of restorative justice. Often victims haven’t been told the full picture, that attending a restorative justice conference reduces the sentence.

“But I’m a big fan of offenders being held to account. And if that involves public speaking and a documentary in this case, then that’s great.”

His stance might put him out on a limb with others in his group, McVicar said.

Obviously Bolton was incredibly remorseful and the judge should be given a pat on the back for thinking outside the square, McVicar said.

Before sentencing Carmen Rogers’ husband Che, his family and Bolton had met in a day-long restorative justice conference.

Che Rogers said he did not want Bolton jailed.

Rather it was agreed that Bolton be part of an anti-drink-driving documentary and also give a speech to senior Spotswood college students with Nouveau, 15, Che and Carmen Rogers’ older daughter.

Seems a good outcome. Restorative justice and non custodial sentences are great when the offenders are truly remorseful and not repeat offenders. I’m sceptical of their value when it does involve a serious repeat offender.

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Is this a candidate for life without parole?

June 27th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A 39-year-old man has been found guilty of kidnapping and murdering a Hawkes Bay sickness beneficiary.

Steven Tiwini Rakuraku faced 11 charges, including the murder of the 50-year-old Johnny Charles Wright, who disappeared on June 21, 2011. …

A reader suggests that Rakuraku is a candidate for life without parole – a sentencing option available since 2010. He notes:

  • Victim was effectively imprisoned in his own home.

  • Victim was effectively tortured over a period of weeks, if not months, buy repeated beatings, including with a weapon of war (Taiaha).  This was not a one-time, sudden loss of control murder, it was premeditated and repeated, brutal and callous in the extreme.

  • I understand the offender has a serious history of offending prior to this case.

The question has to be that if a crime like this doesn’t qualify for LWOP, what would qualify?

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