By Mark Mitchell, National Party Justice Spokesperson, Rodney MP.
This week National released the seventh in our series of Discussion Documents, this one on law and order. As the Party of law and order, this is in our DNA.
Our document has a range of proposals to put victims at the heart of the justice system.
We believe victims should get justice, criminals should be held accountable for the harm they cause, and offenders should be rehabilitated so they can become contributing members of our society.
Keeping people safe with a tough response to crime and reducing it through Social Investment measures, such as prevention and rehabilitation, go hand in hand.
Victims of crime should be at the centre of the justice system, not just an afterthought.
Our MPs have spoken with families who have had loved ones murdered and who haven’t got the justice they’ve deserved as victims in their own right.
Our proposals seek to correct this, whether that’s by automatically signing victims and their families up to the Victims Notification Register or by giving them the right to read their Victim Impact Statements in Court, uninterrupted and uncensored.
We want to speed up access to justice and make the justice system fairer for victims, and that means speeding up the court process.
We’re looking at performance measures for District and High Courts. We want to ensure sexual violence cases are dealt with within 12 months. These are similar to performance measures the previous National Government used to improve access to treatment and screening in District Health Boards.
National is also serious about cracking down on gangs and our proposals reflect that. From a new police unit that will interrupt and harass gangs, to banning gang patches and revoking parole for those who associate with gangs.
Gangs do nothing but peddle misery and intimidate New Zealanders, it’s time we put a stop to them.
The other side to our document is stopping people from reoffending once released from prison.
Using National’s Social Investment approach we want to ensure prisoners can upskill to they have a better chance of not returning to prison. Alongside this, we think there should be increased support for prisoners when they are released back into the community so they are less likely to commit further crimes and victimise more people.
In certain circumstances, when set criteria is met, we will wipe the convictions of young people so their life isn’t defined by one incident.
National is focused on the justice system as a whole. Our proposals touch on all aspects of it, whether it’s the Courts system, or Corrections, or the law in between.
We’re working hard, and it’s clear the Government is doing nothing, spending huge amounts of money on summits, or talk fests, and not much else.
These proposals show National has the ideas and momentum in New Zealand politics while Labour is stuck in a rut, failing to deliver on its promises.
This document is just one part of the biggest policy development process undertaken by an Opposition ever. Enter into the contest of ideas with your feedback here.
Mark Mitchell is National's spokesperson for Justice and MP for Rodney.