Minor offenders to be let off with warnings
Fri, 10 Sep 2010 12:18p.m.
By Brook Sabin
Police are rolling out a controversial new policy which means drunks, cannabis smokers and other minor offenders may be given warnings instead of being sent to court.
Police say it will reduce the court backlog by tens of thousands each year allowing them to focus on serious offenders, but others say the police are going soft.
"This initiative enables police officers to spend less time on paperwork, less time appearing in court and more time out on the street preventing offences and focusing on more serious offending," says Supt Bill Searle.
The system has been trialled in Auckland for the past 10 months. Of the 48,000 arrested over that time, nearly 4500 ended up with just a warning.
Police showed 3 News how it works. After the offender has been locked up, if they're over 17 and the offence carries less than six months' imprisonment a senior officer has the discretion to issue a warning, which will be kept on their record.
"We would argue this is a significant deterrent," says Supt Searle. "We know from similar approaches overseas a large proportion of people who receive a pre-charge warning never reoffend."
The system rolls out nationwide, from this week. Eventually, that could mean around 20,000 less offenders each year are congesting the courts.
But lawyer and former ACT MP Stephen Franks, who has studied New York's 'broken windows' crackdown on minor offences, says this scheme could backfire - big time.
"We know that offenders tend to be gamblers," he says. "If there's a prospect they won't pay any price, the research is very clear there's more offending."
Police dispute that, and say so far none of the offenders warned in their trial have reoffended.
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11/09/2010 12:13:59 a.m.
John Davis wrote:
I dont see why not when it comes to pot, after all we legalized street prostitution, a large number of which use their profession to buy harder drugs.
Good on the professional prostitutes that stay healthy and make alot of money with out wasting it on drugs, but its pretty obvious the government doesn't care about making sure they aren't being exploited by drug pushers.
If they allow this to go on at least stay consistent and legalize marijuana to some degree with limitations on its use.
10/09/2010 9:47:51 p.m.
I worked hard since I was 5 year old, today they received it on the plato with clothes on their back..Minors can have 3 strikes, 3rd time hello Jail until sentence is served..
10/09/2010 7:08:33 p.m.
This is excellent. What we need is more cops on our streets actually being visible in our communities, not wasting countless hours on paperwork and attending court. In these first time offences they are only getting off with a warning in court anyway "Discharge without conviction". Common sense by the Nz Police, well done boys.
10/09/2010 3:29:55 p.m.
Its time people realised that somethings are actually 'misdemenours' & not criminal offences. e.g. smoking cannabis. If the smoker isnt hurting others or commiting 'serious' crimes, then I think this is a definate step in the right direction. Tough on crime is one thing, rational thinking is a better option !! Kia-ora
10/09/2010 2:00:34 p.m.
If it's only going to be applied to the likes of cannabis smokers and drunks I don't see much of a problem with it.. if the drunk is aggressive the officer probably won't let them off with a warning. The police would have been better to not announce they were doing this though, in case people who haven't already been warned think it's ok to go out and 'use up' their warning. We'll see if it works.
10/09/2010 1:06:54 p.m.
I presume this means that the public would be wasting their time reporting incidents of petty crime, vandalsim, tagging disorderly behaviour public brawling etc.
10/09/2010 12:53:55 p.m.
This proposal is fraught with dangers. Time will tell whether it will work.
10/09/2010 12:38:02 p.m.
One hefty arse-kicker at each station would be effective.It worked when I was a kid.
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