Police Practice Guide for Smacking Law Confirms Worst Fears for Parents

The Police have confirmed that they will prosecute parents who lightly smack their children, even if the smacking is inconsequential.

In the Police Practice Guide released by Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope today, it states that “while smacking may, in some circumstances, be considered inconsequential, a prosecution may be warranted if such actions are repetitive or frequent.”

“This makes it quite clear that the discretion clause, trumpeted as the saviour to good parents, will only apply for a limited time and that in effect light smacking of an inconsequential nature will end up being prosecuted,” says Mr McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “This flies in the face of assurances given by Helen Clark and John Key.”

The Police Practice guide also acknowledges the confusing nature of the new law in its introduction by stating that “until case law develops on the section, it is not known how it will be interpreted and applied by the Courts. It will take time to see the impact of the new law.”

“If the Police are having difficulty determining the law and its effect, how is a parent trying to do a good job and parent effectively and within the law supposed to have confidence in what they are doing,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“The Practice Guide also confirms that the Police will be keeping records of all complaints – even those of a minor, trivial or inconsequential nature.”

“It is interesting to note that the Police, in the absence of clear definitions in the law of who is a “child” and what constitutes “reasonable force” will be forced to make subjective decisions based on the age and maturity of the child and the circumstances that led to the use of force. In other words, and ironically, we’re back to the original section 59.”

“The politicians have delivered a ‘feel-good’ law change to the Police with no substance or certainty for parents, and some poor family is going to be the ‘test case’ of a law which, according to a recent poll, 78% of NZ’ers will ignore and 77% say it will have no effect on child abuse.”

ENDS