5 May 2016

Not enough support for deported crims, doctor says

8:36 pm on 5 May 2016

Agencies and scrambling to cope with Kiwi criminals deported from Australia due to a lack of government support, a Christchurch doctor says.

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Photo: AFP

Jeremy Baker says most deportees he sees are suffering post-traumatic stress from their time in detention centres and landing in a country, which in some cases they left as children.

"Medical services are stretched, support workers are stretched, resources around Christchurch - we've debated how they can be improved - but I think just monetary resourcing is not being provided for this."

Staff and volunteers from a local support agency use their own cars to take deportees to appointments and often spend their own money buying food for them, Dr Baker said.

Deportees' reoffending rates declining

Police Minister Judith Collins said earlier today a drop in reoffending rates by criminals deported from Australia showed a monitoring regime was working.

The government passed a law under urgency in November last year to enable returning offenders to be placed under parole-type conditions. Since then the proportion of deportees who have gone on to reoffend has dropped.

Since January 2015, 14 percent of the 385 deported to New Zealand were involved in 104 criminal incidents. However, following the law change in November, only 5 percent of criminals deported to New Zealand had offended.

Police Minister Judith Collins said police estimates putting the projected cost of offending by deportees at more than $126 million over the next six years were calculated before the government changed the law.

"Offending that has come to police's attention following the [New Zealand] law change has been lower than projected, and it is positive to see that the efforts of agencies may be reducing this impact," Ms Collins said.

Judith Collins being re-appointed as a Minister 14.12.15.

Police Minister Judith Collins Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Ms Collins said police, Corrections, health, justice, and social development ministries, and the provider PARS (formerly Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society) had been working together to reduce reoffending by helping deportees reintegrate into New Zealand.

Police were aware of "some incidents involving multiple deportees" and were monitoring this, she said.

"While individuals may not have known each other in Australia, it is possible that deportees were held in the same detention centres in Australia."

Labour Party corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis said it was "not surprising" that deportees were gravitating towards each other for mutual support in a country which was strange to most of them.

However, most wanted to "keep their noses" clean in order to have the best chance of returning to Australia, where they felt most at home.

Labour MP , Kelvin Davis.

Labour Party corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

However, the lack of adequate support left many vulnerable, he said.

"They've got no job, got no roof over their heads. If they don't get the right sort of support, they are going to have to commit crime to get by.

"These people are in a dire situation and if it backfires, it's going to be New Zealanders who are going to be the victims of their crimes."

Timeline

  • December 2014: Australian Government amends the Australian Migration Act, giving officials the power to cancel the visas of suspected or convicted criminals, particularly those sentenced to more 12 months' jail or more, or found guilty of sex offences.
  • September 2015: An information sharing arrangement signed with Australian authorities to share relevant information on deportees so that New Zealand can assess the risks and needs of persons prior to them being removed from Australia.
  • November 9, 2015: Riots at Christmas Island detention centre involving deportees, including New Zealanders.
  • November 18, 2015: New Zealand Government passes law under urgency enabling the Department of Corrections to supervise returning offenders and apply for parole-type conditions, and to enable Police to require information from returning offenders. Existing legislation, such as Extended Supervision Orders can be used for the highest risk offenders.
  • November 19, 2015: First batch of deportees from Christmas Island arrive under new law.

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