ACT says victims will get redress
Victims of crime would get reparation paid immediately, and in full, under an ACT policy that would see government officials recouping costs from criminals by docking their pay or even selling their property.
Ministry of Justice figures from earlier this year revealed outstanding reparation orders were growing by millions of dollars each year.
Some criminals were thumbing their noses at the justice system by refusing to pay, in some cases meagre, court-ordered reparation amounts.
The top five offenders collectively owe more than $2.3 million but had paid back only $75,000 by the end of February this year.
One of those offenders had not made any attempt to pay the court debt since being sentenced.
ACT leader David Seymour said it was an unfair system.
‘‘Ministry of Justice figures show that criminals who owe millions of dollars in reparations routinely ignore court orders to make even the smallest payments to their victims,’’ he said.
‘‘In February 2017, accumulated reparation debts equalled $122m,’’ Seymour said.
‘‘In 2016, courts ordered $30.4m of reparations, with only $23.3m being paid.’’
Currently, courts can only pay victims after receiving payment from the offender.
In many cases that is drip-fed in small amounts, depending on how much the court determines the offender can afford.
‘‘It wastes their time with bureaucracy and traps them in a continuous cycle of dealing with the crime.
‘‘When expected payments stop, it’s a form of re-victimisation,’’ Seymour said.
‘‘ACT would create a reparation fund so that victims get immediate payment at sentencing.
‘‘This fund would be revenue neutral as it will be repaid by the offenders.’’
The Ministry of Justice would then be responsible for chasing offenders for repayment to the fund, by docking their wages or benefit, or taking their property and selling it, he said.
The policy is the latest in a suite of law and order promises from ACT.
The party was responsible for the introduction of the threestrikes rule for violent crime.