Police ‘Smart on Crime’, not “Tough on Crime”

Press Release – Rethinking Crime and Punishment

“Claims that the drop in reported offending is the result of ‘tough on crime’ policies, including increased Police powers, tazers, three strikes and increased policing numbers , are not borne out by the facts” says Kim Workman, of Rethinking …

Police ‘Smart on Crime’, not “Tough on Crime”
“Claims that the drop in reported offending is the result of ‘tough on crime’ policies, including increased Police powers, tazers, three strikes and increased policing numbers , are not borne out by the facts” says Kim Workman, of Rethinking Crime and Punishment.
“The Police deserve better. We should start talking about the Police being ‘smart on crime’ rather than ‘tough on crime’.”

Crime has been dropping in New Zealand since the mid – 1990’s, but recent dramatic drops in the reporting of low-level offending, is due in part to the intelligent use of Police diversion and alternative action. This has led to a significant drop in numbers appearing before the Courts, particularly in Manukau City and the Auckland region.

“According to the recently released Justice Sector Forecast 2011-12, the increased use of diversion was a major factor in last year’s 6.7% drop in the crime rate. The Policing Excellence strategy’s earliest stages have seen a greater use of diversion, restoring the practice to levels last seen in the early 2000’s. That is set to continue. The programme is expected to deliver a 19% reduction in prosecutions (based on 2008-2009 figures) by 2014-2015.”

“There is very good evidence that diversion works effectively both with young people and adults. Nevertheless, the forecast identifies a concern that offender diversion may merely defer the entry of offenders into the later stages of the justice system. While the Policing Excellence strategy could possibly lower numbers entering the court system for a time, after a while the diverted offenders may reoffend and will have to be dealt with by the courts. The Police have taken that assumption into account and predict that charges against offenders will fall 5.8% in 2011/2012, 0.5% in each of 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, and 1% per annum thereafter.”

“There is no mention in the Justice Sector Forecast of the impact of tazers, three strikes legislation, or increased police powers frightening offenders into becoming law abiding citizens. That is because criminal justice professionals know that measures of that kind make absolutely no difference to the attitudes and mind set of offenders bent on crime.”

“The strategies currently adopted by the Police are far removed from those of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, who believe that children and young people should be put before the Court at the first opportunity.”

“Sensible Sentencing also believes that the way to reduce crime is to imprison as many people as possible. That theory has now been blown out of the water. The imprisonment rate is going down at the same time as the crime rate. The current prison population is about 500 under the predicted muster. The sentenced population is forecast to fall from 6,841 to 6,436 (-5.9%) and the remand population from 1,867 to 1,729 (-7.4%) by 2021. The incarceration rate per 100,000 people is projected to decrease from 198 in June 2011 to 170 by June 2021.”

“If the Police can continue to defer the prosecution of low level offenders, it reduces the likelihood that they will eventually be imprisoned. It is low-level offenders who if imprisoned, are the most likely to reoffend on leaving. Alternative disposition is therefore likely to have a positive effect in reducing the imprisonment rate.”

“The public and politicians could acknowledge the great work of the Police, by changing the label from “tough” to “smart”. It’s the difference between brawn and brain.”

ends

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