ACT leader David Seymour can reveal that the cost of Section 27 cultural reports continues to skyrocket. “In the 12 months to June 30 this year, $7.56 million was spent on cultural reports compared to $5.91 million in the same period a year before. That’s a 27% increase – and for what,” he said.

“In the year to June 30, 2023 the average amount spent on cultural reports was a little over $630,000 a month. This compares to an average of $3,333 a month in the year to June 30, 2018.

“The introduction of Section 27 reports has created a fast-growing cottage industry in getting criminals softer sentences, but has it done anything to reduce crime or help victims? No.

In the last week we have seen two egregious examples of how cultural reports are being used to favour criminals and go soft on victims.

Matu Reid, the man who shot and killed two innocent people in Auckland last week, faced a seven-year prison sentence for violent crimes committed while he was still under a previous supervision order for other violent offences. He held his partner by the throat with enough force to fracture her neck.

Despite this, Mr Reid only received home detention partly thanks to sentence discounts received as a result of a cultural report which described “systemic depravation, a disconnect with your culture, [and] a history of family instability and hardship, including being exposed to domestic violence and physical abuse as a young person.”

“Mr Reid may have had a hard life, but protection of the community and the rights of victims must come first. If you attack a woman with enough force to fracture her neck you need to be in jail. Jail keeps the community safe, and it is also the best place to provide the help and treatment that people like Mr Reid need.

“I have no doubt that if Mr Reid had been imprisoned instead of given home detention, three people would be alive today. Two innocent people would be home with their families, and the offender himself would also be alive, with a chance of a normal life.

“The second case we have seen this week is of a young Mongrel Mob member who received home detention despite sexually assaulting a pregnant woman in her home and who continued to threaten the young woman after the assault.

“In sentencing the judge noted his ‘lack of cultural identity’ before giving him 12 months of home detention. According to media reports the offender, Stevie Taunoa, said “Thank you judge. I appreciate that”, then laughed as he entered the police cells and yelled “Cracked it”. This is clearly a young man with no intention of getting rehabilitated.

“The whole system of section 27 cultural reports is rotten, and ACT will end it. ACT has previously promised to remove Section 26(2)(a) and Section 27 of the Sentencing Act 2002, which allows criminals to gain shortened sentences by undergoing cultural background reports.

“We have a Government that thinks reducing the prison population is more important than keeping people safe. By removing this part of the Sentencing Act 2002 we can make our country safer and ensure that sentencing is appropriate to the crime.”

Link to ACT’s previous commitment to remove cultural background reports:

Information of s27 cultural report in answer to a written parliamentary question from ACT:

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