Guard assaulted after electronic bracelet cut

4:59 pm on 30 August 2015

Police are searching for an Auckland man who cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet - the second incident of its kind this weekend.

Thomas Shortcliffe

Thomas Shortcliffe Photo: NZ Police

Thomas Shortcliffe was on bail at a Papakura home and cut off his bracelet late last night.

Police are continuing their search for Shortcliffe, who was being monitored while on charges of kidnapping, assault, burglary and breaching a protection order.

Police said the 44-year-old assaulted a security guard who arrived to check the monitoring bracelet, before fleeing.

They said Shortcliffe had gang connections and they urged anyone who knew where he was to contact police.

Yesterday a 19-year-old sex offender had handed himself into the police in Wellington after cutting off his monitoring bracelet.

Mayor calls for action

The Mayor of Upper Hutt is calling for the Department of Corrections to fix problems with electronic monitoring bracelets to better protect communities.

Wayne Guppy said the number of people cutting off their bracelets was getting beyond a joke and was putting people in communities like his at risk.

Earlier this month convicted child rapist Daniel Livingstone removed his monitoring bracelet and disappeared from his Upper Hutt flat.

Livingstone was under an extended supervision order following his release from prison last year. He was recaptured after being on the loose for a day and a half.

"It's an ongoing saga, not just for our region in Wellington but for the whole country," Mr Guppy said.

"If it's not daily, it's certainly every second or third day where one of these people being monitored - or supposedly being monitored - breaks it and escapes. It's not acceptable - absolutely not acceptable."

Mr Guppy said Corrections must take urgent action.

"There's always going to be incidences, but it's about how quick, how soon and who responds and how quickly so that people remain safe. Otherwise the whole programme has to be in jeopardy."

It is believed the police are currently looking for 19 people who have removed their monitoring devices.

Problem may lie with contractors - Howard League

A group advocating for prison reform, the Howard League, believed the problem did not lie in who was given the bracelets - rather in who kept tabs on them.

"The problem lies rather with the monitoring of the bracelets themselves - a failure to properly monitor, or a failure to respond promptly... if there is interference to the bracelet," said Nigel Hampton QC, a patron of the Howard League in Canterbury.

"[The Government] might want to be shaking up some of the contractors that are looking after things ... and enhancing the procedures between those contractors and the police."

Mr Hampton said very few people breached their conditions for electronic monitoring, and he warned against any broadbrush changes to the system.

Greg Newbold, a professor in sociology at the University of Canterbury, said there was nothing wrong with the electronic monitoring bracelets, and no need for a review because so few people broke the rules.

"Those people who violate the conditions should have the bracelets removed and be returned to prison," he said. "But that's no reason to stop everybody else from using the monitoring devices."

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