27 Oct 2015

Govt to supervise deported criminals

8:10 pm on 27 October 2015

A new supervision regime for offenders deported to New Zealand after serving a prison sentence overseas has been revealed by the government today.

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Justice Minister Amy Adams says the country has no choice over accepting deported citizens Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Justice Minister Amy Adams revealed details of the new plan today.

However, she confirmed 167 New Zealanders had already arrived back here after being deported from Australia and would not be covered by the supervision regime.

The government will be able to apply for Extended Supervision Orders or Public Protection Orders for offenders it considers to pose a serious risk, out of that group of people.

It was prompted to draft the legislation with hundreds of New Zealanders due to be deported from Australia in the coming months.

Ms Adams said it had been her intention that returning criminals should be subject to the same sort of oversight as those who had served similar sentences in New Zealand.

"Now that we have a register to track these offenders and an information sharing arrangement with Australia to provide us with all the detailed information we need, we're in a much better position to properly assess and monitor these returning offenders - the majority of whom come from Australia."

Ms Adams said retrospective legislation to cover those already deported was incredibly difficult.

"It's my intention that the regime will apply as soon as the Bill is passed and we want to expedite that. There will be a backstop ability in there for corrections to go back and seek additional orders from the court at any time, and it may well be that is something that can be sought for offenders that are already here."

She said New Zealand had no choice about whether or to accept the New Zealand citizens deported back here.

"Along with the other initiatives we've already announced, the supervision regime will put us in a stronger position to monitor and manage offenders who pose a threat to the public, and will help rehabilitate and reintegrate returning offenders into the community."

It would apply to those sentenced to more than a year in prison and those who have returned to New Zealand within six months of their release date.

Ms Adams estimated an average 100 people at any one time will be subject to the proposed supervision regime, which is expected to cost about $7 million over five years.

Offenders will have similar conditions imposed on them as they would have if they'd served their sentence in New Zealand, under the supervision of the Parole Board.

That would include a requirement to report to a probation officer, who had the authority to impose restrictions on living and working arrangements, and who the offenders associate with.

The offender would also have to notify their probation officer if they change their residential address.

The Department of Corrections would be able to apply to the District Court for additional conditions, within the period of supervision, if and when needed.

The length of time they will be under supervision will depend on the length of their prison sentence.

For example six months supervision for a sentence of one to two years, and five years' supervision for a life sentence, or the equivalent.

Police would also be able to photograph and fingerprint all returning offenders, and require them to provide specified information, such as name and aliases, date and place of birth and intended address.

And they would be able to get a DNA sample from deported offenders if the offence they were deported for is also an imprisonable offence in New Zealand.

The Government estimates an average 100 people at any one time will be subject to the regime, which is expected to cost about $7-million over five years.

"It's my intention to advance these changes as a matter of priority and we'll be talking with other parties in that regard," said Ms Adams.

The Green Party said the Government should have made a stronger stand against Australia's automatic deportation of New Zealanders before considering a supervision regime.

Green's co-leader James Shaw said the proposal made sense in principle, but New Zealand was paying the cost of Australia's deportation policy.

"This has only come about under urgency because the government has consistently failed to stand up for human rights and to ensure the Australians stop their automatic deportation."

Mr Shaw said the party had not seen the draft bill yet so could not say whether it would support it.

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