Violent offenders getting off scot-free

Herald on Sunday Nov 15, 2009

New figures show a sharp increase in the number of violent offenders escaping without criminal conviction. Information from the Justice Ministry and Statistics New Zealand reveal the number of violent offenders being discharged without conviction has tripled over the past 15 years to more than 1400 a year. Violent offending increased by a third over the same period.

Wellington barrister Robert Lithgow said the rise came from police putting more trivial matters before the court, which didn’t justify the stigma of a conviction. “The courts are saying this is out of all proportion.” Former Auckland District Law Society head, barrister Gary Gotleib, said a “reasonable percentage” of domestic violence cases were resolved by discharge without conviction. He said victims often advocate for counselling, or told the court the offender had changed as a result of attending a course.