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Crime targets no excuse for fewer prosecutions

Police are being instructed to charge fewer people in order to meet National’s crime reduction targets, Labour says.

“Front line police and others in the criminal justice system are telling us police have had pressure put on by senior officers to reduce the number of charges they lay to meet the Government's targets,” Justice spokesperson Andrew Little says.

“Police are increasingly using pre-charge warnings as a device to not proceed with charges. At the same time I have heard of people being told to gather evidence themselves before police will consider bringing charges.

Labour’s Police spokesperson Jacinda Ardern said New Zealanders were owed an explanation.

“We won’t stop the cycle of repeat offending against women and children by lowering the threshold for prosecution.

“This directive coincides with a significant drop in the number of family violence prosecutions, while at the same time the number of family violence investigations has soared.

“It doesn’t help that police are still not recording domestic violence offences separately, or that access to many programmes aimed at stemming family violence are contingent on a prosecution.”

Andrew Little said police had a constitutional duty to uphold the law, not determine prosecutions based on ministerial directives.

“Those working in the field know most police are fair and consistent when it comes to family violence. However, if they are motivated to do anything on the grounds they have political targets to meet, then there’s a problem.”

“Offending against women and children must be taken as seriously,” Jacinda Ardern said. “Labour has pledged to establish an action plan to bring about long-term solutions to family violence.”