Head of Safe and Effective Justice calls for cross-party consensus

While Chester Borrows was an ex-National MP he is also an ex police officer and lawyer, so was a good appointment as head of the Safe and Effective Justice advisory group set up by the Labour led government.

The group has just released it’s report after extensive consultation – see Te Uepū report – Transforming our Criminal Justice System

Borrows is now calling for cross-party consensus on reforming the justice system.

RNZ: Time for cross-party consensus to transform justice system – Borrows

The head of a group that found racism embedded in every area of the criminal justice system says it’s now time for a cross-party consensus to tackle to the issue.

Māori were over-represented as both victims and offenders of crime, with Māori making up 51 percent of the prison.

Chairperson of the government’s Safe and Effective Justice advisory group, Chester Borrows, told Morning Report the report highlighted the need for “transformational change” and said any political party would be foolish to disregard the report’s contents.

He said the legacy of colonialism had meant Māori entered prison after being socially and economically disenfranchised.

“People tend to think that this is something that is really historic,” he said. “In fact, if you take away the economic base of a community and them under-educate them in a foreign language it’s not surprising that a few generations down the track they are corralled into the lowest decile suburbs failing in every area of the social sector.

“What we have in New Zealand is people don’t really touch the justice system until they’ve been failed by all those other areas such as health. education, welfare, the economy and employment… We’ve allowed that to happen. It’s a pattern and we’ve done nothing about, in respect to prisons, in 30 years.”

The former National minister said it was now time both political parties and government departments came together to untangle the legacy, so that policy and its implementation reflected one purpose. He said a transformational change in the way government and political opposition looked at justice was key to success.

“Any party would be foolish to disregard this report, which is so comprehensive, I think this is where people in the middle of the political spectrum are. The changes that need to be made are fundamental.

“We have no single driver of the justice sector and yet we’ve got five different departments who are in it, all measuring themselves against their own KRA, but not with one single goal in mind and that’s a ridiculous place to be… If they are not all facing the same thing and heading towards a common goal then they are stuck but they start.”

He acknowledged this would be difficult, due to the criminalisation of Māori and a punishment-based focus on the criminal justice system being made political positions at election time. But said the public was now sick of that approach. “It is too important for it to remain political all the time,” he said.

It will be difficult reaching political consensus on major reforms of the justice system, but it shouldn’t be difficult for all parties to work together on this.

Simon Bridges is a lawyer and has been a Crown prosecutor. He could use that experience, and show real leadership by ensuring that National engages positively on seeking reform.

Mark Mitchell is National’s spokesperson for justice. I haven’t seen either him or Bridges respond to the Safe and Effective Justice report. I hope that means they are seriously considering contributing to finding solutions.

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  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  11th June 2019

    Good post, PG. I hope Burrows’ focus on colonialism doesn’t just lead into a blame game. Seems a bit risky and I think he could have taken an historical view without that provocation.

    • Duker

       /  11th June 2019

      Well we now the ancient Britons were subject to colonisation from the Romans and then the Saxons, then Vikings then the Normans.
      They well remember when the Romans said , sorry chaps we have decided not to colonise you any more , we are going home and how wonderful it was once they left.

  2. Blazer

     /  11th June 2019

    Chester is a good man.

  3. Corky

     /  11th June 2019

    ”He said the legacy of colonialism had meant Maori entered prison after being socially and economically disenfranchised.”

    Bullshit. This report forgets the most salient point – personal responsibility. If you don’t commit crime, guess what? You don’t come into contact with our dysfunctional justice system.

    Fixing the justice system WILL NOT fix Maori.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  11th June 2019

      It can’t be fixed without fixing the cultures that spawn it and teaching them how to live, treat each other and be productive.

      It’s a big ask, especially when most of it is deep in drug and alcohol abuse and consequential physical and psychological damage.

  4. Gezza

     /  11th June 2019

    I’m a bit concerned that too much focus on Maoritanga is going to lock too many Maori into comparatively low skill or local social work-type jobs – which are undoubtedly obviously needed – when what they also really need in their communities are more builders, architects, accountants, doctors, nurses, teachers, scientists, technicians, innovators, entrepreneurs, businesspeople, IT designers etc.

    The people who can really make a difference to getting communities pumping, healthy & prosperous & serve as role models & the proof that if they can acquire these skills, so can others.

    I dunno how we achieve this, but I hope Maori do. Because I don’t know how you design a Maori education system that can deliver these skills in Te Reo Maori. Somewhere along the line Maori parents and/or educators need to inspire their rangatahi to go for much better than just forestry, fruit picker, or tourism worker.

  1. Head of Safe and Effective Justice calls for cross-party consensus — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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