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.
“The National-led Government has revolutionised the approach to offender rehabilitation to reduce reoffending rates and ensure there are fewer victims of crime,” says Mrs Tolley.
“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.
“Our focus on rehabilitation and reintegration will also be further strengthened by a new post-release specialist addiction treatment programme for prisoners, so support continues in the community when offenders are at risk of returning to drugs and alcohol, which we know are major drivers of crime,” says Mrs Tolley.
Offenders who have taken part in intensive residential drug treatment unit programmes while inside prison, who are on parole or released on conditions, will be required to attend specialist drug and alcohol addiction aftercare programmes once released.
This will be introduced for up to 1,000 offenders each year, at an estimated cost of up to $6 million a year.
“We don’t want offenders returning to their old ways and creating more victims when they are released,” says Mrs Tolley.
“Places on addiction treatment programmes have increased by 1500 per cent since 2008. We don’t want this excellent work undone on release, which we know can be a difficult time for offenders.
“For those who need continued support, the new aftercare programmes will provide the help they need to keep them away from substances.
“This will reduce their chances of recidivism, as we progress towards our Better Public Services target of a 25 per cent reduction in reoffending by 2017.
“The expansion of working prisons and the introduction of aftercare programmes will also help National achieve its new target of reducing crime by 20 per cent by 2017,” says Mrs Tolley.
This policy will help rehabilitate prisoners, equip them for work when they are released and by doing so reduce re-offending.
Two people are dead and another seriously injured after being shot in the Ashburton WINZ office:
. . . A balaclava-clad man carrying a sawn-off shotgun entered the Work and Income office on the corner of Cass and Moore streets and fired several shots before fleeing on a bike.
The gunman was last seen heading towards the Ashburton river. Shots have reportedly been heard since coming from the river.
A source told Fairfax Media that one person was shot dead on site and another died at Ashburton Hospital.
Police confirmed that two people had been killed and the third person was in hospital. . . .
This is firstly a tragedy for those who died, their family friends and workmates.
It is also a shock for the community and other public servants:
Ashburton District Mayor Angus McKay said he felt “weak at the knees” when he heard about the shooting at the town’s Work and Income office.
“Ashburton is not this kind of town,” he said.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett called it “an extreme situation and tragedy”, adding that all resources were going into looking after WINZ staff.
She was travelling down to the town this afternoon.
Public Service Association (PSA) said the shooting was a tragedy and nobody should go to work in fear that they might not return home.
PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff said “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragedy,”
“We don’t know what the cause is, but we will be supporting our members from Ashburton Work and Income at this terrible time. . . .
This has already been used for political point scoring on Twitter.
It shouldn’t be.
No political views justify killing innocent people at work.
It’s a tragedy.
Another election, another spate of attacks on hoardings.
And who wins from the hooliganism?
This letter from today’s ODT makes it clear:
I own a sign company. Local body and national elections are good business for me and others in our trade. We get commissioned to produce and erect party signs and predetermined locations around the country. Every party has the same rights to advertise in these spaces.
My question is, why do folk feel the need to pull dow, deface and destroy these hoardings> It is a total waste of time and money, and to be fair we (sing writers) are the only winners. Drawing phallic symbols, horns, of Nazi symbols on oppositions’ signs does not promoted your own cause – if anything it only shows the mentality behind your own ideology.
Here is an out-there idea: why not just accept that every party will try to promote itself this way and get on with selling your own policies and values?
I’m no social political expert but I know many of us look at Gaza and wonder how the parties involved can be so hell-bent on destroying each other, yet the behaviour of the sign smashers, while not life-threatening, is not a million miles way.
Show some leadership and if that’s too hard, just grow up.
Bruce Carvell, Managing director Williams Signs & Graphix Ltd.
Some of the hooliganism is politically motivated, some isn’t.
This year the has been a disturbing level of anti-Semitism and personal denigration in some areas.
All of it is expensive in time, energy and money for the volunteers who fund, erect, clean and re-erect the damaged hoardings.
I’d like to think that people make their decisions on how to vote on a lot more than hoardings.
But they’re legitimate advertising and should be left alone to give their message rather than demonstrate the idiocy of those who for political or other reasons deface, destroy or steal them.
Police and Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says the Government is taking action to tackle and prevent gang crime, to reduce the harm it causes to families and communities.
For the first time, a multi-agency approach involving intelligence-gathering, enhanced law enforcement, prevention, intervention, rehabilitation and reintegration will be adopted to address New Zealand gangs and transnational crime groups.
“The crime rate is at a 35-year low, recorded crimes have fallen by over 20 per cent in the past four years, and reoffending is down by over 12 per cent, so the time is right to focus on tackling gang crime, which causes disproportionate harm in our country,” says Mrs Tolley.
“We want to ensure that Police and other agencies have the tools they need to hold gangs to account, while breaking the cycle of offending by preventing young people from joining these organisations, and helping current members to exit gang life.
“As gangs continue to expand and adapt, law enforcement and legislation needs to be strengthened, while we also require a long-term plan to address what is a complex issue, to halt the intergenerational grip which gang life has on families, and to reduce the number of victims, both within these families and in the wider community.”
Known members of gangs comprise 0.1 per cent (4,000 people) of the population aged 17 and over, but in 2013 were responsible for 25 per cent of homicide related charges and in the first quarter of 2014 have been charged with:
34 per cent of class A/B drug offences
36 per cent of kidnapping and abduction offences
25 per cent of aggravated robbery/robbery offences
26 per cent of grievous assault offences
These gang members average 53 offences in their lifetime, and the 50 members with the highest number of charges average 229 charges each.
Almost half of serious offences by gang members are family violence related and, from a 2013 sample of 50 high risk gang members, 74 per cent of gang children have been abused or neglected on multiple occasions.
“The emotional cost to the victims of gang crime and to those affected by gang family violence is huge, as is the cost to the taxpayer, and we believe a new approach will be more effective in reducing the harm caused by gangs,” says Mrs Tolley.
Those are very compelling reasons for tackling gangs.
The whole of Government action plan addresses the issue through four initiatives:
A multi-agency Gang Intelligence Centre led by Police to collect and combine intelligence on real-time gang activity to support investigation, prevention and enforcement, while also identifying vulnerable children and family members who may need social service support. It will also identify young people at risk of joining gangs, so that agencies can target interventions to help steer them away from gang life.
Start at Home: a programme of work to refocus existing social initiatives, and develop some new programmes, to address the intergenerational nature of gang life, to support families and members turn away from the gang lifestyle, and to help support communities where there is a large gang presence, by reducing gang tension. It will also include enhanced prisoner reintegration and rehabilitation programmes by Corrections targeted at gang members, with access to violence and addiction services and support to access training, education, employment and housing, possibly in new locations away from gang life. Safety planning and support will also be provided to women with gang connections at risk of family violence on release from prison.
Two multi-agency Dedicated Enforcement Taskforces will be established. The Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Border Protection Taskforce will target drug trafficking networks to disrupt new gangs attempting to enter New Zealand and restrict and monitor international gang travel. The Criminal Asset Confiscation Taskforce will strengthen asset recovery efforts, prevent financing of crime and target profits received from crime.
Strengthen legislation: The Sentencing Act will be amended to allow courts to stipulate 24-hour GPS monitoring on high-risk gang affiliates following release from a prison sentence of two years or less, as part of their conditions of release or sentence. This will prevent them from associating with other members at gang headquarters or places where gangs congregate. It will also provide intelligence on their activities. The proposed changes to the Sentencing Act were recently announced to allow for 24-hour GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders.
Other legislation will also be reviewed. Officials are to provide advice by the end of the year on options around Firearm Prohibition Orders (FPOs), which could prohibit serious gang offenders from possessing or obtaining firearms, and also penalise anyone who knowingly supplies firearms to someone subject to an FPO. Police and the Ministry of Justice will explore Interim Freezing Orders on bank accounts and cash, and possible unexplained wealth laws, for those convicted of drug trafficking or similar offences. To prevent and disrupt drug trafficking within New Zealand and between the North and South Islands, Police and Justice will investigate a pilot of drug detector dogs at key domestic ports (maritime and air).
“This is a comprehensive plan and Government agencies will have an important role to play in the years ahead,” says Mrs Tolley.
“Gangs don’t need to be a fact of life in New Zealand. They are criminal organisations, and inflict serious harm on anyone who comes into contact with them.”
Q and As:
What is the cost to New Zealand from gang activity?
Apart from the harm they cause communities, Police analysis of just one gang family showed that over three generations they had 423 victims, costing the taxpayer around $5 million in justice costs and benefits costs.
Corrections estimates the proportion of gang members in prison has increased from 15 per cent to around 28 per cent over the past eight years, with each prisoner costing the taxpayer approximately $100,000 each year.
Gang members reoffend at twice the rate of non-gang offenders, so are more likely to return to prison.
What is the cost to families?
Five out of nine child deaths in New Zealand between 2009 and 2012 involved step fathers with gang connections.
55 per cent of gang members are dependent on welfare. 61 per cent have outstanding child support owing. 71 per cent of clan labs have links to organised crime, and children were found at 33 per cent of drug dealing houses uncovered in 2013.
So our plan to crack down on gangs and help vulnerable families is another tool in the arsenal to fight the drivers of misery in society – like poor education, family violence, crime, welfare dependency and hopelessness.
If things don’t change, then imagine the wasted human potential and community harm that might arise. We want to change the life course of these kids, who’ve already had such a difficult start in life. Because if we don’t, they have a high chance of heading down the path to state care, crime and welfare dependency.
Which agencies are involved in this plan?
Police, Corrections, Justice, the Ministry of Social Development, Education, Health, Te Puni Kokiri, Housing New Zealand, Inland Revenue and Customs.
How will this tie in with existing programmes?
This is much wider than a law and order issue. Families identified as needing support will be able to benefit from Government programmes such as Whānau Ora, Children’s Teams, Social Sector Trials, our recently announced Family Violence package, Neighbourhood Policing Teams, the Youth Crime Action Plan and our initiatives to reduce reoffending. We want to prevent gang activity and reduce crime and violence in families and communities. We also want to offer young people an alternative to gang life.
What’s different about this idea?
If we want to bring the crime rate down even further, and make communities safer, then we have to tackle the offending which is more difficult to reduce. We want to see fewer victims of gang crime, including fewer victims within gang families. The reality is that we can’t arrest our way out of this issue, so law and order is only one part of the answer.
For the first time we have brought Government agencies together to help gather and share information, and ensure there is a collaborative approach to dealing with gangs, supporting the families of gang members, and putting in place some long-term approaches to this issue.
What are the timeframes and cost?
The Gang Intelligence Centre and Taskforces will be funded through Budget 2015 and established by December 2015. Funding of around $1.6 million over two years is required for the Intelligence Centre and detailed costing work for the taskforces is currently underway.
Other work is expected to be funded from baselines.
What other work is taking place in prisons?
Gang members have been able to access the huge increase in places on addiction, rehabilitation, education and skills programmes over the past three years. Corrections will work more closely with these gang members to encourage them to access and benefit from rehab. The Department is also focusing on improving their identification of gang affiliates, as well as protecting prisoners from gang intimidation and recruitment.
What initiatives will be introduced through the Start at Home programme?
In addition to existing programmes, agencies will work with local government, community providers, local businesses and iwi to develop local initiatives, alongside the work already being done by Neighbourhood Policing Teams. This could include community events with access to recreational activities and health and education services. It could also include schemes similar to the Community Garden in the Gisborne area, where women from gang families were supported with access to education, skills, budgeting and social services. http://www.tenone.police.govt.nz/tenone/June14News2.htm
These events and activities are the drivers for agencies to offer support through a range of measures.
How will success be measured?
Reductions in crime, especially violent crime, will be measured as part of the Better Public Services targets – the plan will also be continuously reviewed by Police. The Gang Intelligence Centre will be gathering up to the minute information which should give Police important intelligence on the effect these initiatives are having. As well as crimes committed, this will also include successes on steering young people away from gang life, who had been identified as being at risk. Through the close working relationship between agencies in this dedicated unit, it will also gather information on how violence towards wives, partners and children within the gang families is being dealt with and prevented, and what additional action and support is required.
Gangs have been a blight on too many communities for far too long.
This gang-busting approach will reduce crime and the harm it does to its victims which include families of gang members.
The sideshow might be entertaining for the media and political tragics.
But what really matters is that government policies are working for New Zealand and New Zealanders.
One of the most important of those is in crime reduction which has economic and social benefits.
Crime is awful for victims and costly for taxpayers.
Reducing crime reduces the number of victims and it also redirects criminals to more honest and gainful pursuits.
Long-term welfare dependency is reducing and more young people are achieving higher qualifications under the Government’s Better Public Services initiative, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman say.
The Government today published the July update of BPS targets, which confirms more good progress in tackling some of the most challenging issues facing New Zealanders, however making headway in other areas is slower, Mr English says.
“The Government is committed to making progress on the really difficult issues that affect our communities and families, and particularly the most vulnerable,” he says.
“Taxpayers spend billions of dollars a year on public services to help their fellow New Zealanders and this Government is determined to ensure they get what they pay for. Our focus on reducing welfare dependency, increasing achievement in schools and reducing crime require government agencies to find better solutions and to work with others to implement them.
“We are prepared to spend money on effective programmes which change lives, because what works for the community also works for the Government’s books.”
Dr Coleman says the ambitious goals set by the BPS initiative were chosen to make a real difference to the lives of New Zealanders.
“We have always said some of the targets will be challenging and require determination and teamwork to achieve, and it’s pleasing to see agencies working co-operatively.
“The latest update shows we are making good progress overall. We have now met the targets for reducing total crime and youth crime. There has been good progress in reducing long-term welfare dependency, increasing Level 2 NCEA pass rates and those with New Zealand Qualifications Framework Level 4.
“Progress in the past 12 months towards our target of reducing long-term welfare dependency is encouraging, with 6434 (8.5 per cent) fewer people continuously receiving jobseeker support for more than one year. We are also seeing people stay in employment for longer.
“In other result areas, more work is being done to reduce rheumatic fever, reduce assaults on children, and improve online business transactions.”
Dr Coleman says that because of the BPS programme, agencies are working together more effectively and delivering results through collaboration and innovation.
“Agencies are making better use of data to drive better services and to meet the needs of local communities. Agencies are also learning about what works through research and evaluation,” he says.
“There is a greater focus on chief executives doing what is best for the system as a whole, rather than just looking at the short term interests of their department, and that is supporting the changes needed to achieve results.”
The BPS programme began in 2012 when the Prime Minister announced goals and measurable targets in 10 challenging areas, including reducing long-term welfare dependency, supporting vulnerable children, boosting skills and employment, reducing crime, and improving interaction with Government.
The Better Public Service Results July update is here.
Money is being spent where it will have a positive impact.
This is often more expensive in the short term but it will pay off with both social and financial dividends in the medium to longer term.
Behind these numbers are individuals whose lives and outlook are better than they would have been had National not introduced targets and policies that are working for New Zealand.