Labour accuse Government of interference in prosecutions

Labour list MP Andrew Little has accused the Government of pressuring the police to reduce the number of prosecutions. This has been strong denied by the police and Government. Stuff reports Pressure to lower stats – MP:

Police were under government orders to “minimise” the number of domestic violence charges they lay to make crime statistics look good, Labour MP Andrew Little claimed yesterday.

But the claim has been strongly denied by both police bosses and the Government.

Family violence figures released yesterday by the University of Auckland’s Family Violence Clearinghouse show police charges for domestic violence offences dropped by up to 29 per cent from 2009/10 to last year.

And for the same period, the number of offences recorded by police fell by nearly 10,000.

But the number of investigations into family violence grew from 86,800 in 2010 to 95,100 incidents last year.

Little, a list MP and New Plymouth’s Labour Party candidate, said he believed the drop in family violence charges was due to the Government putting direct pressure on police to lower the crime statistics.

“What I have been told authoritatively is that front line police have been told to minimise the number of charges they lay.

“That is not just family violence but across the board. I’m told it’s not just domestic violence, it’s all forms of offending.

“I think that a combination of that and using police safety orders is what is showing up in the reduced number of charges in relation to domestic violence,” Little said.

Little has said similar in a media release:

Police are being instructed to charge fewer people in order to meet National’s crime reduction targets, Labour says.

“Front line police and others in the criminal justice system are telling us police have had pressure put on by senior officers to reduce the number of charges they lay to meet the Government’s targets,” Justice spokesperson Andrew Little says.

On Firstline this morning David Cunliffe support these claims. He said that no evidence was available to support the claims but that they had been told of the issue.

Cunliffe said he had no “solid proof” but it had been heard on the street.

Government says the claims are unfounded and outrageous.

Some scepticism is justified, especially leading into an election campaign.

This is a serious accusation. Labour should back up their claims with evidence or they risk being seen as indulging in ‘cry wolf’ politics.

In a speech in the weekend David Cunliffe promised a clean campaign with no smear politics.

That’s what I believe in.

That’s what Labour believes in.

That’s what we’re all fighting for.

And that’s why on September 20 we will win.

This election campaign should not be about dirty tricks or dodgy deals; smear campaigns or a personality cult.

We’re going to run a positive campaign because people matter most.

It’s not long ago Labour were complaining bitterly (with some justification) about a lack of evidence in claims about Donghua Liu donations. They were saying it was a smear campaign.

There’s still a need for the Opposition to hold Government to account, but unless they can provide a solid case that Government have been interfering in prosecutions this may look like a dodgy dirty smear attempt.