Friday, June 01, 2007

Local government authoritarianism

Wanganui District Council has voted unanimously to send their Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill to Parliament. The bill will now have to be publicly notified and made available for inspection - a process which takes about a month - before being introduced to the House. Chester Borrows is reportedly confident that the bill will pass, but I'm not so sure. While MPs may be quite willing to ignore the BORA issues in a craven attempt to appear "tough on crime", this Parliament has shown great reluctance to create a patchwork of local criminal laws. So while I expect the bill to make it to select committee, I expect the committee to ultimately recommend against it.

Meanwhile, the Herald piece last week on the government's plans to introduce UK-style ASBOs to New Zealand also noted that Rotorua District Council was proceeding with its plans to punish criminals without trial by using trespass orders to bar them from the city centre. A bill has been drafted, but is waiting on further advice from the Minister of Police (and presumably other bodies) before it can be notified and introduced. Meanwhile, it seems that the local police have been exploring other options; papers obtained under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act reveal that the Rotorua police were investigating the use of "voluntary" Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (another UK innovation) for young offenders, as well as seeking legal advice on whether judges could order exclusion from certain geographic areas at sentencing so they could "brief local judiciary with a proposal". I'd have thought such orders - effectively a sentence of internal exile - would require explicit permission in statute, and there seems nothing allowing them in the Sentencing Act 2002 - but the police didn't seem concerned about that. I'll have to dig into this further and find out whether anything has come of it.


I don't believe there's any provision, although bail conditions are often imposed that a person should remain outside an area.

I'm not entirely opposed to some sort of exclusion order *if* it was part of a community supervision order imposed *instead* of prison. Not when there isn't proper evidence, the person has already served a sentence, or the court would otherwise just have imposed a fine.

Posted by Rich : 6/03/2007 11:12:00 AM

Putting aside the mindnumbing willingness on the part of Police and Councils to toss to the side the BORA and freedoms of expression/association/movement - these actions all seem to me to be rather defeatist. I'd much rather see debate (and action) on how to fix the root causes of crime (on the whole, poverty and poor education) rather than seeing barely mandated local body politicians trying to prevent individuals from recidivism.

Posted by James : 6/04/2007 11:25:00 PM