ACT says vic­tims will get re­dress

Nelson Mail - - NEWS - STACEY KIRK

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.

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