Judith Collins18 September, 2012
New orders deal with highest risk offendersJustice Minister Judith Collins introduced legislation to Parliament today that creates special orders to better protect the public from serious sexual or violent offenders.
The Public Safety (Public Protection Orders) Bill will allow the High Court to order offenders who pose a very high risk of imminent and serious sexual or violent offending after they are released from jail, to be detained.
Public Protection Orders (PPOs) would see offenders held in a secure facility until the High Court is convinced they are safe for release.
“This Government is committed to delivering on our election promise to introduce a civil detention regime for the most high-risk offenders,” Ms Collins says.
“The safety of New Zealanders is paramount and it should not be jeopardised by a small number of offenders who continue to be a serious threat after they are released from prison.
“PPOs are a new tool to deal with society’s worst offenders in a way that current sentencing and release provisions, such as extended supervision orders and preventative detention, don’t allow.”
Ms Collins says the regime balances the rights of New Zealanders to be safe in their community with the rights of offenders who have served their sentence.
“The test for handing down an order will be high – there will be strong checks and balances to ensure orders are applied appropriately and reviewed regularly, and give offenders as many civil rights as practicable.”
Offenders subject to a PPO will be able to seek a court review of their detention at any time. If they no longer meet the criteria, they will be released and placed on a protective supervision order.
PPOs are not being designed to target a specific individual and are expected to apply to between five to 12 offenders over the next decade. Many are expected to be child sex offenders.
This is a welcome and overdue move by the Government to deal with a very small number of offenders, but nonetheless a group of offenders that the public should be rightly concerned about.
Unfortunately, however worthy this legislation is, it comes too late to protect Wanganui from Wilson; or to protect Wilson from a very small section of the Wanganui community. Whilst that is regrettable, we understand that the legislation needed o be drafted in a careful and considered manner.
We support the intention of this legislation. There is a small but significant population in prison who, despite the gravity of their offending have finite sentences. The community is entitled to be protected from them, just as Wanganui wants to be protected from Stewart Murray Wilson.
Civil libertarians will squeal about the implications of overriding a finite sentence imposed by the Court. However as we said with the Wilson case, the rights of his next victim are of far more importance than the rights of a convicted sex offender who remains a danger to the community. We commend Judith Collins for introducing this legislation and look forward to its First Reading.
Footnote: You can read a Q&A on the proposed legislation here.