Stuart Nash versus the constitution and the Police

Stuart Nash, Labour’s spokesperson for Police, was strongly criticised recently for comments made on the sentencing of Nikolas Delegat, including by law professor Andrew Geddis who said Nash was “calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements”.

Pundit: Shut up, Stuart Nash (with added thoughts on the Nikolas Delegat case)

Stuart Nash is trying to make political hay out of Nikolas Delegat’s crime and punishment. The problem is, in doing so he’s calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. That’s … not a good thing.

Here’s what the NZ Herald quotes Nash as saying:

Labour’s Nash said the Government should tell the Crown Law Office to appeal the “ridiculously light” sentence handed down to Nikolas Delegat for assaulting a policewoman.

“The Prime Minister and the Police Minister must come out and condemn the sentence as totally inadequate and state that Crown Law will appeal. This would send a very clear message that this type of behaviour against police will not be tolerated by our communities and offenders will be punished accordingly.”

There’s just so very, very much wrong with this. The Government can’t tell Crown Law to appeal anything. That decision lies in the hands of the Solicitor General, who is a non-political appointee.

Second, Ministers cannot come out and “condemn [Delegat’s] sentence as totally inadequate”.

What Stuart Nash is calling for here is Ministers to completely ignore fundamental precepts of our constitution. Now, I get why he is doing so – he’s seeking to capitalise on some widespread outrage with how Delegat was treated (more on that in a moment).

But the fact is that the Government cannot and should not do what he’s saying it should, and he’s completely out of order to demand that it do so.

A party spokesperson for Police should know these things.

More problems for Nash with publicity about him attacking Police officers.

Early yesterday via Newstalk ZB: Stuart Nash in stoush with Police top brass

A skirmish between Labour and the police has blown up into an all-out war of words.

Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard has written to Labour leader Andrew Little, complaining that Napier MP Stuart Nash is going too far in his criticisms of Eastern District Commander Sandra Venables.

Mr Nash said he’s raising issues that the community wants addressed, but admits he possibly shouldn’t personally target the District Commander.

“She might not be allowed to come out and say MP Stuart Nash is wrong and I refute this, I’d like to meet him at dawn with pistols.”

“But what she can do is start taking a really proactive stance on communicating with the community.”

Nash said he might make future criticism less personal, but he still stands by his criticisms of police leadership.

The Deputy Commissioner has had enough, saying Stuart Nash is repeatedly attacking someone who isn’t allowed to reply publicly, and that he’s incorrectly blaming the District Commander for the problems he sees.

Judith Collins had a dig at Nash

Police Minister Judith Collins thinks something very simple is behind Labour’s criticisms.

“Well I think they both probably have a problem with strong women.”

After his strong criticisms and response Nash softened somewhat later in the day.

Stuff: Labour’s Stuart Nash under police fire over his attacks on the Eastern District Commander

Labour’s police spokesman Stuart Nash is backing down on his sledging of a District Commander after police attacked his behaviour in a letter to Labour leader Andrew Little.

“By and large my criticisms aren’t based on what people tell me, they’re based solely on statistics,” he said.

Little and Nash have met to discuss the letter from Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard, which was also posted on the internal police bulletin board, and Nash says a decision not to mention Venables name in future was his.

“What I’ve said to Andrew, what I’ve promised to do is that I will not mention the District Commander by name again and I’ll confine my severe criticisms to the Police Minister and the lack of funding,” Nash said.

“It’s what I suggested as the best way forward.”

Collins pinged him again:

Police Minister Judith Collins said Nash is in the wrong and “needs to stop it and act more professionally”.

“He needs to stop attacking a senior police officer or any police officer who is not actually able to defend themselves publicly,” she said.

Nash’s plan to change tack and concentrate his criticism on Collins was a sign he has a “problem with strong women,” Collins said.

Andrew Little…

…said he supported Nash “who is doing his job as a local MP” but they had agreed he would keep his focus in the political arena and in particular on the Police Minister.

That’s a wishy washy ‘support him doing his job but he will change how he does it’ sort of comment, and doesn’t reflect the message he brought back from Canada of presenting a positive party.

Delegat case and rushing to judgment

The Police and then the Court took 18 months to charge Nikilas Delegat and process his case through our legal system. They rejected Delegat’s attempts to get name suppression and to get a discharge without conviction.

The resulting sentence has been widely criticised.

Labour MP Stuart Nash wants the Police Minister Judith Collins to intervene – Newstalk ZB: Stuart Nash: Govt should intervene in Delegat case

Labour’s Police spokesman Stuart Nash has called on Police Minister Judith Collins to direct the Crown to appeal the Nikolas Delegat sentence.

Nash said the Government should tell the Crown Law Office to appeal the “ridiculously light” sentence handed down to Nikolas Delegat for the assault.

Nash wants Ms Collins to speak publicly about the sentence, given her strong comments about assaults on police in 2010.

But…

…Ms Collins said she could not comment on the Delegat case because it was a judicial decision which was still within the period in which an appeal could be lodged.

“I’m not going to pre-empt that. That would be to interfere in the operation of the courts, it would be a breach of the Cabinet manual and could, in fact, completely stuff up any appeal rights that the Crown might have.”

As I understand things Collins is right and Nash should now how our judicial system works and how the Government should not interfere in the process, at least not unless exception circumstances are involved and certainly not if an opposition MP rushes in and grandstands straight after a sentence is announced.

Today’s Herald editorial: Delegat case – system must resist rush to judgment

The sentence given to Nikolas Delegat for assaulting a policewoman has been widely condemned.

An alcohol-fuelled Delegat hit Kane at least four times on March 26 last year. In the same incident, Delegat attacked a security guard at the University of Otago campus and lashed out at arresting police officers. He first appeared in court five days after the attack when he was charged with the aggravated assault of Kane, an offence carrying a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment.

The Appeal Court dismissed Delegat’s suppression case last November and the case went back to the Dunedin District Court in June, when the aggravated assault charge was downgraded to assaulting a police officer with intent to obstruct her in the execution of her duty. The offence carries a three-year jail term.

Delegat admitted the charge but this week Judge Kevin Phillips rejected his plea for a discharge without conviction for what he termed “a very serious assault”. The judge also was critical of Delegat’s approach to a restorative justice conference, saying the teenager had 18 months to do something about it.

The response has been widespread and vocal.

Critics of the sentence complain it is too light. Greg O’Connor, president of the Police Association, said if Delegat had been poor and brown and from South Auckland, he would have gone to jail. Labour MP Stuart Nash wants Crown Law to appeal the judgment.

But…

Delegat is a first offender, and his sentence does not appear out of line, whatever the Police Association might have to say. Critics of the sentence were not present for the hearing, and do not possess all the facts. It is appropriate that decisions of the courts get public scrutiny. It is just as appropriate that the system resists any rush to judgment.

Delegat may appeal, and the Crown may appeal. These things take longer than a reactive social media and grandstanding politicians.

Whether the sentence was appropriate or not is up for the parties involved to consider and accept or oppose as they see fit, through the Court, not through the cauldron of public and political opinion.

Lawyer Graeme Edgeler responded to some of the reactions.

Newshub: Why was Delegat’s sentence so much lighter than Maikuku’s?

Because if it was the same, he’d have gotten 50% more than the maximum penalty for the charge he faced?

What sentence should a 1st time offender get if they plead guilty to an offence carrying a 6 month maximum sentence?

  • 9 months’ prison
  • something else

NZ Herald: Police Association: If Nikolas Delegat were poorer he would have received a harsher sentence

If he were poorer, he probably wouldn’t have made the news.

 

3 strikes, 3 years for burglary?

Burglaries are a growing concern. yesterday Duncan Garner tweeted:

Clarification; on Saturday in I said burglaries were up almost 12% in one year. I was wrong. Stats NZ just told me it was 14%

Yesterday the Dominion Post editorial: No easy answer for burglaries

The police brass estimates that they currently get an officer to 70 per cent of burglaries. Unfortunately, they solve many fewer than that – about 9 per cent of those recorded.

On the face of it, a guarantee of attendance by the police seems an obvious response. Yet criminologists and those who represent police officers agree that simply attending burglaries does not offer a sure bet of improvement.

There are no witnesses to most burglaries, so catching the offenders is difficult. A low resolution rate is not unique to this moment, nor to New Zealand; it is, to some extent, just the nature of burglaries.

On the other hand, as criminologist Greg Newbold points out, sending officers to follow up on what most people regard as an invasive crime can be reassuring to victims. Failing to send them, meanwhile, can breed cynicism – among those affected, their neighbours, and perhaps even those committing the crimes.

It may not be as bad as it sounds.

Still, as Collins was at pains to point out a couple of days after her announcement, burglary numbers over the past year have defied the trend and leapt upwards – by about 12 per cent nationally.

Some of this increase appears to be down to a methodological change in how burglaries are counted. Some may be due to more scrupulous counting by the police in the wake of the scandal over doctored burglary counts in Counties-Manukau in 2014. Certainly other police statistics suggest that recent burglary numbers remain far lower than they were in the mid-1990s, despite a much larger population.

But we still have a significant problem.

The Police Association says it reflects deeper currents of drug and gang crime. Whatever the cause, and however hard the solutions, burglary is certainly a crime that causes public anxiety – and thus political peril. Collins’ populist intervention – and her decision to draw attention to a rising category of crime happening on her watch –  is a clear signal she is aware of that.

Collins should also be aware of a proposal from ACT’s David Seymour – 3 strikes for burglary. This is outlined in the latest ACT Free Press.

Burglary Up
Burglary is up and even National MPs’ electorate offices are now being burgled. The police minister says that the police will now attend every burglary, but what will that mean?  Police generally know what is happening on their patch and prioritise accordingly.  We doubt that attending every burglary will increase the resolution rate because most burglaries are carried out by professionals too smart to leave traces.  We wonder what other crimes police will now not attend to.

Unless the number of front line police officers is increased more time spent on burglaries will mean less time spent on other crime.

Three Strikes for Burglary
Earlier in the year ACT tabled its Three Strikes for Burglary bill, but other MPs objected to it being debated.  The policy is very simple: with resolution rates as low as they are, you have to commit a lot of burglaries to be convicted three times, so you should be sentenced to three years.  ACT’s Three Strikes for violent and sexual offences has been a success at reducing reoffending for those crimes.  ACT will continue campaigning for a Three Strikes rule for burglary.

Is 3 strikes, 3 years for burglary worth considering? Should we keep recidivist burglars off the street and out of our homes for longer?

Arrogant, complacent Government

It’s not unusual for Governments to become more arrogant and complacent the longer they are in office.

It’s even less surprising when the main opposition party is weak, at risk of weakening further, and has failed to have good leadership for eight years (and four leaders).

Duncan Garner writes An aloof Government and some criminally bad spin doctoring.

If you ever want to see a government attempt to spin its way out of trouble then wait for the annual release of the crime statistics.

And on cue came National’s Oscar-winning performance this week.

Except no-one was fooled. It was bad comedy. They simply got handed the gong for the all-time international award for ‘bullshitters of the century’.

The ‘criminally bad spin doctoring’ was the announcements by Judith Collins and John Key that the Police were going to do a bit more about burglaries, and then a day or two later we find out that crime statistics show that burglaries have increased significantly.

…crime is creeping up and the Government is seriously exposed on the rates of burglaries.

There were a staggering 11,000 new victims of crime in the past year. Burglaries are up almost 12 per cent in just one year. And only one in 10 burglaries are resolved. Crime clearly pays.

It’s hard not to think this Government has become dangerously complacent: out of touch and aloof in too many areas.

It’s quite easy to think that. In part because it’s obvious that they are slipping into aloofness and out of touchness. And in part because they aren’t even spinning with any conviction any more.

Surging house prices is a classic example of this.

Housing Minister Nick Smith sneered this week that he hadn’t even bothered to read the latest OECD Housing Affordability report – which says our houses are now the most expensive in the world.

You’re clueless minister – I’m not sure what’s worse: that you don’t have any solutions, or that you don’t give a toss. Incompetent? Or just arrogant? Both, clearly.

There’s a growing perception that Smith’s and the Government’s handling of housing has been hopeless and hapless.

The one thing in their favour on housing is that many people will quite like the value of their properties escalating.

National got caught out this week trying to spin its way out of trouble.

But the truth is there is more crime and fewer police per head of population, compared to when National arrived in office.

For the party of law and order – I say they’re guilty of complacency and taking their eye off the ball, at the very least.

The problem for national with crime is that the vast majority of voters are victims or know victims or sympathise with victims.

There’s no counterbalance to the Government dropping the ball on crime.

This is exacerbated by the previous portrayal of Judith Collins as being tough on crime – the crime Crusher.

And all she can say now is that suddenly the Police will start actually attending every burglary to try to stem a crime wave – or try to stem a wave of bad PR.

Many aspects of property values are out of central Government’s control or very difficult to get under control.

The level of resources given to the Police and the focus of the Police is very much under the control of Government. If they keep fluffing that and if the remain out of touch about how us the people feel about increasing crime then voters may give up on them regardless of the governing alternative.

Arrogance and complacency in general is risky enough for a stale Government.

Failure to keep crime under some semblance of control could easily result on the jury of voters condemning Key’s tenure.

Government and Police versus burglaries

The Government is getting more openly involved in trying to combat crime. John Key has written to Asian communities trying to give them reassurances, and Judith Collins has announced that the Police will now attend all reported burglaries to try and improve the 10% rate of solving this insidious crime.

NZ Herald: PM’s open letter after fears of people taking law into own hands

Prime Minister John Key says an open letter he wrote to the Chinese community about burglaries was partly prompted by concerns people would start arming themselves to defend themselves and their property.

Key’s ‘open letter to the Chinese community’ was sent to four Chinese newspapers this week. It was a modified version of a column he wrote for about 30 ethnic media outlets.

Key said it was aimed at reassuring those communities the Government was taking the issue of crime seriously.

He said crime was often raised with him by ethnic communities. High profile burglaries or assaults sometimes prompted concern an ethnic group was vulnerable or being targeted.

Key said he himself had been burgled three or four times “and I know what an invasive and disturbing experience this can be.”

It said Police were now putting more focus on preventing and resolving burglaries and from September 1 would treat it as a priority, including a goal of attending every burglary scene.

“I would like to reassure you National remains as focused as ever on preventing crime and helping to keep our communities safe.”

The Government has been under pressure over low resolution rates for burglaries.

Yesterday Minister Judith Collins announced a greater focus by Police on addressing a major problem with burglaries.

Police take further steps to counter burglary

Police Minister Judith Collins welcomes Police’s decision to attend all house break-ins, which comes into effect today.

While burglary rates are still below that of recent years, there has been an increase over the past 12 months. Police has responded by raising dwelling burglary from a volume crime to a priority offence.

“This shows Police are serious about tackling burglary and also sends a clear message to offenders.”

The new policy sets the expectation of full attendance at dwelling burglaries so the public can now expect either a constabulary or scene of crime officer to attend within a reasonable time.

“Given the nature of policing there will be occasions where they cannot attend a dwelling burglary for a range of reasons, including adhering to the wishes of the victim. However, the Commissioner of Police has made his expectations clear.

“Police have assured me that they continue to make burglary a priority with ongoing work in every district to reduce this crime type while also focusing on increasing resolution rates.”

If police attend all burglaries it will give them more visibility in the community, which may help address other types of crime too.

While not raised here the number of police officers is becoming a bigger issue.

Problems with releasing sex offenders

Releasing recidivist sex offenders when they have completed sentences is a very difficult thing to deal with. Understandably no one wants them living anywhere near them.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins was interviewed about this on Q & A this morning.

One News: Courts need to do more about keeping sex offenders from the public

Corrections Minister Judith Collins says public protection orders should be used more by the courts to keep sex offenders away from potential victims in the community.

Mrs Collins told Q+A that in cases such as one publicised today, where a young mother of three spoke out about her struggle with a sex offender living behind her house in Mangere, Corrections tried to get a Public Protection Order for him.

But, the High Court felt he did not meet the criteria.

So he has to be released, and he has to be housed somewhere.

“He does have 24-hour, seven-day-a-week monitors and minders with him,” Ms Collins said.

“But unfortunately, he has served his sentence… he’s on the most intensive form of monitoring that Corrections can get, and they’ve been turned down for a public protection order.”

She also said the government was building a community inside the prison grounds at Christchurch Men’s Prison to house people who had completed their sentences, but were deemed too risky to be living back in the community.

“But… the courts have to allow that to happen, allow us to have these people placed there.

“So Corrections doesn’t just decide where people are; they’re actually directed by the courts and the parole board.”

Full interview: Where to put sex offenders (14:03)

Panel: Where to put sex offenders – Panel (10:17)

Bennett and Collins ‘derail’

A number of incidents and media reports suggest that it hasn’t been a good week for Ministers Paula Bennett and Judith Collins.

Jo Muir at Stuff: Cabinet Ministers tipped as possible PM successors derail over homelessness and police

There’s been suggestions and rumours that Bennett and Collins may be possible future Prime Ministers but there has been nothing of any real substance (other National MPs have also been suggested) and there is no indication that there will be a vacancy any time in the foreseeable future.

What Cameron Slater and Martyn Bradbury post does not necessarily have any relationship with reality.

Two ministers touted as heir apparent to John Key did themselves no favours this week, derailing spectacularly.

Not just a wheel coming off the track, but the carriage flipped on its side, smoke and flames kind of derailing.

The ongoing headlines around homelessness and a shortage of emergency housing for the most vulnerable Kiwis has plagued the minister for months.

Attempts to get back on the front foot haven’t worked and Bennett has been left drowning in a pool of kneejerk policy.

To add insult to injury, Key was comfortable throwing her under the bus when she got things wrong about the Ministry of Social Development’s flying squad accompanying the Salvation Army to offer help to homeless living in cars.

Bennett in particular has had a difficult time lately.

But it was Bennett’s mixed messages to the PM that really gave Labour’s Phil Twyford some free hits.

Last week Key told media that the MSD flying squad had taken an active role tracking down the homeless to see what support they needed.

He said those people approached by MSD and the Sallies had declined help.

But the Salvation Army said they turned down an offer by MSD to accompany them to the park where people are living in cars, as some people are very wary of Government officials.

Bennett went into crisis mode, explaining what she meant was that MSD had gone to help by taking phone calls to assist the Sallies.

This was an embarrassing blunder from Bennett who provided the muddled information to Key, meaning he had no qualms about throwing the mess back at the culprit.

This kind of public botch-up is a godsend for a relentless MP like Twyford, who spent all week asking Bennett why she wouldn’t apologise to the Sallies for jeopardising their relationship with the homeless.

While not linked to leadership contention Twyford is one of the few Labour MPs causing real problems for the Government.

Even National Party sources have confirmed there’s little internal support for her refusal to say sorry.

She nearly mentioned the sorry word in Parliament but checked herself and threw shit back at Twyford instead.

As for the other train wreck, perhaps more of a car crash – exhibit two is Collins.

The minister usually known for her hard and crusher-like approach seemed to have a minor meltdown following the horrific road toll at Queen’s Birthday weekend – the worst in 27 years.

Labour’s Stuart Nash was quick to put out a predictable press release on Tuesday saying police underfunding was at fault.

He also blamed Collins’ announcement that 100 cops were being taken off the road.

But instead of simply pointing out that Nash was ahead of himself given the 100 police hadn’t been cut yet and his argument was redundant, Collins went a bit rogue and blamed men talking on their mobile phones.

Given there’s no proof any of the crashes at the weekend had anything to do with men talking on mobile phones, it’s just odd to even go there.

But that’s not where it stopped. The following day Collins, who has been noticeably withdrawn and quiet in the House over recent weeks, threw a grenade at police efforts to reduce speed on the roads by saying she didn’t agree with their zero-tolerance approach.

I’m not sure if Collins momentarily forgot she’s the Police Minister, but to criticise the police’s flagship policy as far as road policing goes and tackling excessive speed was just bizarre, especially given how unheralded her position was.

Her performance was far less serious or embarrassing than Bennett’s but indicate that Collins is not functioning at her best.

National don’t have any leadership vacancies or problems, but wobbly wheels like Bennett and Collins won’t do much towards helping the National bus weave it’s way into another term.

The Nation today

On The Nation this morning at 9:30 am:

and Gerry Brownlee live on tomorrow morning. From people smugglers to prison popn

And:

First it was faulty hip parts. Tmrw, has a new story on medical devices causing pain for Kiwi patients & costing taxpayers

And the panel:

Great panel joining us at 9.30am on , &

Their Twitter panel this morning is and . Follow for  their own coverage.

Up first on , the white paper talks of people smugglers targeting NZ & battles over Antarctica’s resources. Gerry Brownlee is live

Are we getting it right as we talk the tightrope over the ? will ask Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee

 

Speaking out on family violence

Continuing on their series today NZ Herald quotes a number of people including Police Commissioner Mike Bush, Police Minister Judith Collins, Andrew Little plus a few actors.

family_violence_article_banner

Family violence: New Zealanders speak out

New Zealand has the worst rate of family and intimate-partner violence in the world. Eighty per cent of incidents go unreported — so what we know of family violence in our community is barely the tip of the iceberg.

Today is the final day of We’re Better Than This, a week-long series on family violence.

Our aim is to raise awareness, to educate, to give an insight into the victims and perpetrators. We want to encourage victims to have the strength to speak out, and abusers the courage to change their behaviour.

Take a stand – NZ is #BetterThanThis

So here’s a prompt for Your NZers to speak out.

Q+A today

Q+A today (9 am TV One) has a focus on foreign trusts and land tax:

Revelations this week that a company set-up by John Key’s lawyer lobbied the Government against changing the rules on foreign trusts. We asked Revenue Minister Todd McClay for an interview but he wasn’t available nor was the Prime Minister. But former Revenue Minister Peter Dunne will join us live to discuss.

Also, economist Arthur Grimes from the Motu Research Institute on Land Tax. Will it work?

Plus:

Minister of Police and Corrections Judith Collins is back. How will she tackle drugs and gangs?

Joining our host Greg Boyed on the panel will be political scientist Dr Raymond Moore, Green Party chief of staff Andrew Campbell and social commentator and Ngāti Whātua spokesperson Ngarimu Blair.

Peter Dunne says he is looking forward to this:

The longest serving revenue Minister he’ll join us to discuss the and 9am Sunday

There’s been some preliminary exchanges on this on Twitter between and :

Espiner: says Panama Papers a ‘wake up’ call on foreign trusts. I interviewed him in 2012 for TV3 doco: he denied they were a problem.

Dunne: The issue has moved since then: IRD’s first of expression of concern to Ministers was August 2014, after I left portfolio

Espiner: exactly the same regime as I put to you then. Difference is 8000 trusts in 2012, 12000 now. Attraction is the same: secrecy.

Dunne: Again, you’re not listening. The first advice of concern from IRD was late 2014 when I was not Minister.

Espiner: Why didn’t you listen to me in 2012?!

Dunne: As I’ve long suspected, it’s all about you🙂

Espiner: It’s my job to be fair …. (!)

Dunne: And mine to act on the basis of competent official advice.

: What if there is no competent advice?

Dunne: Personally, I think it foolish to take any advice on anything that is not competent.

Dunne was Minister of Revenue from 17 October 2005 to 7 June 2013 – the three years of that was during the Clark Labour Government’s third and final term, and then Dunne continued with Revenue in the first term plus a year of the second term under Key’s National Government.