“Badlands, NZ: A Land Fit For Criminals” NZ Is Soft On Crime


Update: In light of the recent stories about New Zealand criminals being deported from Australia this page, first published in April 2011, has been updated.

David Fraser, a British expert with extensive experience of crime and punishment in the UK has just had published another book, this time about crime in New Zealand: Badlands, NZ: a land fit for criminals

Fraser, who worked with criminals for 34 years, 26 of them with the UK probation service,  was also the author of  A Land Fit For Criminals: An Insider’s View of Crime, Punishment and Justice in the UK.

He recently turned his interest to New Zealand which claimed to have one of the highest prison incarceration rates in the developed world: 186 people per 100,000 of the population. However, research by the British government suggests that New Zealand has one of the lowest rates of imprisonment and may be being too soft on criminals. The country’s legal system is seen as being lenient on offenders because it is making more and more non-custodial sentences available to convicted criminals.

One source says “New Zealanders have been kept in the dark about the true nature of our crime problem, because politicians and academics have caused most of the soaring crime rate and would prefer the public didn’t find out.” Although the cost of keeping a criminal in prison is accurate at $100,000 a year it costs far more for society if offenders are released – the average criminal committing around 80 crimes at a cost of $355,000 a year to the community.

Writing for the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph in 2006 Fraser said of the UK’s system

Almost all governments since the 1960s have tried to convince the public that probation works and prison does not. In fact, that is the exact opposite of the truth. Probation, parole and community sentences fail miserably at reforming criminals. The reality is that if criminals are in prison, they cannot commit crimes. If they are in the community, they can – and they do.

Fraser reckons successive NZ governments have also let their country down by introducing legislation that favours the offender: calling it “the scandal of the century” and that they should be ashamed of their actions

“The record of all governments in New Zealand since the 1950s in relation to crime prevention has been disastrous,” Fraser writes.

“The fact is that all governments since then have gone out of their way to introduce policies that have encouraged criminals to become more criminal.

“Almost every piece of criminal justice legislation passed during the period has made it easier for judges to avoid sending criminals to prison, by expanding the number of non-custodial alternatives available to them.

“In addition, other acts of parliament, as well as procedural and administrative changes, have put numerous obstacles in the way of finding, arresting and convicting offenders.”

The NZ Sunday Star Times reviewed his latest book, saying

“He became concerned about the nature of offending in New Zealand, and has since spent the past three years researching crime rates and law and order changes.

He argues while politicians have overseen law changes that have been criminal-friendly, in too many cases they have shown scant concern for the wellbeing of the victims of their crimes.

He cited how in 2003 Prime Minister Helen Clark visited the family of a boy injured in a dog attack, and politicians promised to introduce tough new laws and give dog control officers greater powers. But he said the same response wasn’t made towards the victims of serious crime.

“No minister visited the family of Lynne Baxter who, while out jogging, was murdered by being deliberately run down, repeatedly stabbed, and whose head was crushed with a concrete tile,” he said.”

“There was no similar ministerial response when Faletoi Kei, who was picnicking in the park with his family, was stabbed to death after offering food to his killer.”

The  Sunday Star Times also mentioned how Fraser laid to rest another New Zealand myth – .i.e. the country is tough on crime.

Fraser labelled as a myth claims from government and opposition MPs that New Zealand was tough on crime, especially when New Zealand has “the second-highest imprisonment rate in the western world”.

Figures he has published show 15 European countries are tougher than New Zealand on the basis of how many people were imprisoned per 100,000 crimes recorded, and he said a British government document comparing imprisonment rates in 22 European countries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, showed New Zealand was the “fifth most lenient” state.

Yet in New Zealand home detention sentences are often awarded to high risk criminals with a risk of re-offending, rather than custodial prison sentences. Read Northland man who mained American tourists in Paihia given six months home detention (Nov 2015)

Unfortunately, it is well known that in some areas of New Zealand home detention sentences are being ignored or breached.

Department of Correction guidelines stipulate that home detention sentences shall be

“targeted at offenders convicted of more serious offences, who have a higher risk of re-offending, and who are otherwise likely to receive a short term of imprisonment (less than two years). This includes offenders who have breached community-based sentences, and who may otherwise be considered for a short prison sentence.

HD should be considered as a potential sentencing option for all offenders in this category, although it will not always be recommended.

Here are some recent cases in New Zealand where handling of offenders has been perceived to be inadequate:

Have you read Badlands, NZ: A Land Fit For Criminals? leave your comments about the book or crime in NZ below.

4 thoughts on ““Badlands, NZ: A Land Fit For Criminals” NZ Is Soft On Crime

  1. I have only read chapter one but can already see why the police force has such a high turnover and why 0800 NEW COP has to be advertised so much.
    It must be one of the most discouraging jobs in the world jumping through all the hoops to arrest someone, only to find them get off or given a limp sevtence which does nothing to stop reoffending.
    Many of the worst crimes seem to be from previous offenders let out early.

    • “It must be one of the most discouraging jobs in the world jumping through all the hoops to arrest someone, only to find them get off or given a limp sevtence which does nothing to stop reoffending.”

      Even more discouraging when there’s a substantial cohort of corrupt police, of the “taking bribes” “outright criminal activity” and the “Noble cause(*)” types, as well as heavily-ingrained institutional racism.

      (*) “He’s a bad man, he must have done something, we’ll make sure this sticks even if some of the evidence needs to be manufactured or exonerating evidence withheld from the courts”

      Faced with that kind of mentality plus the way the courts treat hardened criminals, it’s no great surprise that NZ police are largely only one degree removed from the criminals themselves.

  2. “When the peers doing the “peer review” are not truly in thought independent of each other, the process is bogus”.

    In New Zealand, groupthink reigns! It’s not about what is correct or not. It is very consensus-driven. The goal is for everyone to agree. It’s not about what is true or not true. This can be truly frustrating for immigrants.

  3. The Academic “peer review” process which is already today trying to shaft David Fraser, as a person, and not focussed on his work, is the justification that has been used to bring in the Laws and procedures that now exist in NZ that Fraser is reviewing! This “peer review” thing of academics by each other, has come into severe disrepute ever since the falsified Man-Made side of any actual global warming that is happening. The academic review of the peer review problems there, incredibly found that there was no problem even though very important data and presentation had been wrongly changed! When the peers doing the “peer review” are not truly in thought independent of each other, the process is bogus. All it ends up saying is whether or not one person agrees with a received dogma and way of thinking or not. Basing Parliamentary and Government action – and taxation! on such “peer review” procedures is doing no more than giving in to the philosophies of life of a special interest group of overpaid and now highly redundant trendy liberal academics. Lets hear David Fraser’s data and let the truth fall where it does, without any insiders so-called “peer review” censoring of the true things of life! I’d sooner follow God’s wisdom in life through Christ, than dead academia any day!

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