Two new policing initiatives are being launched in Auckland with the objective of preventing crime, improving community safety, and reducing reoffending.
Police Minister Stuart Nash will today launch an iwi community justice panel, Te Pae Oranga, at Hoani Waititi Marae in west Auckland, before travelling 50 kilometres to the east of the city to open a new Police base in Beachlands on the Pohutukawa Coast.
“The trustees of Hoani Waititi Marae in Glen Eden have a long history of leading innovative restorative justice programmes,” Stuart Nash says.
“Hoani Waititi was one of the first marae to deliver Family Group Conferences and the late Judge Mick Brown held the first Youth Court sittings there. That approach has been maintained by current leaders including Sir Pita Sharples and Dame June Mariu.
“Hoani Waititi trustees have worked in partnership with Police to establish the country’s eleventh iwi community justice panel, Te Pae Oranga. It is the first iwi panel in the Waitematā Police District and means all three Auckland policing districts now have access to the restorative justice initiative.
“The panel has real potential to reduce reoffending and victimisation in Waitematā, as well as keeping young people off the pathway of crime that leads to prison. At around $100,000 per year per inmate, we can’t keep building American-style mega prisons every few years as the main feature of our justice policy.
“The panels are not a soft option. Police must agree to refer an offender for a hearing. The offences are at the lower end of the scale, often involving careless driving or shoplifting, wilful damage or public disorder. The offender must admit guilt and be held to account for what they have done. They are open to Maori and non-Maori.
“Members of the panel, respected community figures, encourage the offender to deal with the issues that led to the crime and work on a plan to stop it happening again. The offender has to make good for the harm they have caused. That might involve an apology to the victim, financial reparation, or some form of community service.
“Early research shows reoffending by those who have gone through a panel hearing is around 12% lower than other justice processes. They are particularly effective in reducing offending by young Maori between 17 and 24. We know they aren’t the whole answer, and that they won’t work for everybody. But we are bringing a fresh set of eyes to the challenges of our justice system,” Mr Nash says.
“On the other side of town the new Beachlands community policing base is in a fast-growing suburb in the largest policing district in the country. Despite the modern residential subdivisions it retains some of its original rural characteristics such as isolated road access, and is 20 kilometres from the nearest Police station.
“The new community base will bring a valuable Police presence to Beachlands. As well as the growing residential population its beachfront location is a magnet for visitors. In the summer months Police have recorded an increase in seasonal crime such as property damage, theft and antisocial crimes linked to alcohol.
“Beachlands has a strong volunteer network of neighbourhood watch and community patrols. Local businesses are also investing in crime fighting tools like number plate recognition cameras. The new Police base will offer greater assurance to locals who want to see more resources for crime prevention and community safety.
“The Beachlands community policing base has a public counter staffed from 9am to 4pm, five days a week. Volunteers help with office duties while three constables use the site as a base for getting out into the community. More constables may be deployed there as resources start to become available from the government’s increased commitment to policing in Budget 2018.
“My priority as Police Minister is to ensure Police are fully resourced to help keep our communities safe. That is why our first Budget devoted an extra $300 million to policing. It is a first step. There will be more in future budgets. We are well on the way to meeting our plan for 1800 extra Police officers and 485 Police support staff.
“These two initiatives show the value of Police working in partnership with local communities to enhance safety, focus resources on crime prevention and look at new ways to reduce offending,” Mr Nash says.