“The use of cultural reports for reducing sentences is out of touch with Justice Minister Kiri Allan’s alleged “victim-centric approach”, more money is being spent helping offenders than victims,” says ACT’s Justice spokesperson Nicole McKee.

“They say justice is blind, but in New Zealand we appear to hand out massively reduced sentences for criminals who have had troubled upbringings. ACT says we need to focus on the victims.

“Earlier this year a pair of Mongrel Mob members running a major meth operation received up to 30 per cent discounts on their sentence because of reports into their upbringing. What about the countless lives that have been ruined by the methamphetamine they produced and distributed?

"These reports have created a cottage industry within our justice system. The cost of producing them has increased from $865,000 in 2019 to more than $6,000,000 in 2021.

“I asked Justice Minister Kiritapu Allan in Parliament whether this is fitting with a “victims-centric approach”, she claimed that nothing has changed since 1985. If this is true, then why are cultural reports becoming more and more frequent and costing taxpayers more money?

“Unlike the Justice Minister, ACT believes there is a problem that needs to be fixed. ACT would 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.

“These reports are leading to massively reduced sentences for some of our most hardened criminals, by focussing on the background of the offender our justice system is failing to properly acknowledge the victim.

“In June this year the Minister bragged to me in Parliament that her Government had spent $5 million helping victims of crime, but they’re spending more helping offenders get reduced sentences.

“We need to ask ourselves if this money is best spent going to consultants, or being used to help with rehabilitation and supporting victims.

“Only in New Zealand. 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.”

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Nicole McKee