Fo­cus on crime and the courts pays off

South Waikato News - - OPINION - By LOUISE UPSTON

MP for Taupo

Of­ten when I hold con­stituent clin­ics in Toko­roa, or I am out and about in the lo­cal community talk­ing to peo­ple at events, one of the big­gest is­sues peo­ple want to talk to me about is crime.

We all de­serve to feel safe in our homes and com­mu­ni­ties.

I’m proud that this Gov­ern­ment is stay­ing tough on crime, with the lat­est sta­tis­tics show­ing an­other drop in the crime rate, down 5.9 per cent for the June 2012 year. We put 600 ex­tra po­lice on the beat, and we have in­vested in re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and rein­te­gra­tion to re­duce re­of­fend­ing.

Na­tional has fo­cused re­sources on front­line polic­ing and crime preven­tion.

These ini­tia­tives al­low po­lice to spend more time in their com­mu­ni­ties, and fo­cus the jus­tice sys­tem on vic­tims. We’ve set four bet­ter pub­lic ser­vices tar­gets to help re­duce crime, and lead to 45,000 fewer vic­tims by 2017.

We in­tro­duced the Of­fender Levy to fund more ser­vices and sup­port for vic­tims of crime, and we have in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion to re­duce un­nec­es­sary pa­role hear­ings and the stress they cause vic­tims.

We’ve also de­liv­ered on our elec­tion prom­ise to bet­ter pro­tect the pub­lic from se­ri­ous sex­ual or vi­o­lent of­fend­ers through the Pub­lic Safety (Pub­lic Pro­tec­tion Or­ders) Bill, which will al­low the High Court to de­tain these of­fend­ers.

Six-monthly data on court ap­pear­ances and sen­tenc­ing shows fewer crim­i­nal charges are be­ing laid, and fewer peo­ple are ap­pear­ing in court.

With crime fall­ing to record lows, and the num­ber of peo­ple com­ing to court de­creas­ing, we are now work­ing on im­prov­ing how the county’s 63 Dis­trict Courts are ad­min­is­tered, and modernising ser­vices to be more in line with pub­lic ex­pec­ta­tions.

We want to move from a sys­tem fo­cused on pa­per and build­ings to one which makes the best use of new tech­nol­ogy.

Fines can al­ready be paid on­line, and soon judges will be able to man­age crim­i­nal cases elec­tron­i­cally, mean­ing charges will be pro­cessed up to 70 per cent faster, and Min­istry of Jus­tice staff and po­lice will save more than 90,000 hours a year.

Changes to the court net­work will also in­volve nine small courts be­ing used as hear­ing-only courts – rather than be­ing open five days a week – and four small courts be­ing closed.

These changes have been made pos­si­ble by our suc­cess in re­duc­ing crime and see­ing fewer peo­ple in our courts, as well as the in­creased use of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy.

Na­tional promised to build a safer New Zealand, and we are de­liv­er­ing on that prom­ise.

Here in South Waikato we are for­tu­nate to have many groups and in­di­vid­u­als pas­sion­ate about low­er­ing crime and keep­ing the community safe, I’d like to thank you for all of your hard work.

For more in­for­ma­tion, as­sis­tance with an is­sue, or to share your views with me, email Upston.sth­waikato@par­lia­ or phone Vi­vian in the elec­torate of­fice on 07 886 5554.

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