The Minister for Police Troy Grant has today announced an aggressive, evidence-free package of reforms with the apparent dual purpose of seeing sex offenders face harsher penalties while also reducing the dramatic increases in the prison population.
The package allocates more than $200 million dollars which will fund 200 extra staff in Community Corrections and 19 community service work buses. This is a small drop in the ocean compared to the existing $3.8 billion allocated to building new prisons required as a result of the increasing prison population. No additional funding has been allocated for crime reduction measures or to improve rehabilitation within prisons.
Though the announcement was today the legislation to enact the reforms is unlikely to come before the Parliament until end 2017.
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“The “Tougher Smarter Safer” package seems designed to deliver a three word slogan, rather than to provide a comprehensive plan for actually improving community safety.
“The abolition of suspended sentences is also concerning and further removes the ability of the court to make appropriate findings based on all the facts in a case.
“No matter his personal view, the kind of aggressive language of retribution from the Police Minister we saw in his press conference should have little place in our political system in NSW.
“While Minister has indicated that chemical castration will currently be optional, we note that this is a slippery slope, and will be closely examining the legislation to see how voluntary this is.
“Make no mistake, sex offending is extremely serious – but victims are best supported by sensitive and responsive policing with adequate resources in place to ensure timely and effective investigation and prosecution. Minor notification changes about offenders are not enough.
“Victims of sex offences have long called on the NSW Police to commit the police to responding better to victims and provide training to officers on how to process offences from interview to court verdict in ways that are empowering for victims,” Mr Shoebridge said.