Auckland Iwi Community Justice Panel launched to deal with offending at 'lower end of the scale'

Police Minister Stuart Nash will today launch New Zealand's eleventh Iwi Community Justice Panel - Te Pae Oranga - in the hopes of reducing re-offending rates.

The new panel will the be the first in the Waitematā Police District and will be based at Hoani Waititi Marae in West Auckland.

Police have the option of referring people to the panels instead of sending them through regular court processes.

Mr Nash says those referred will be people with offence usually "at the lower end of the scale" - such as careless driving, shoplifting or public disorder.

The members of the panels are respected community figures and they encourage the offender to deal with the issues that led to the crime.

The offender has to "make good" for the harm they cause, Mr Nash said, perhaps involving an apology, financial reparation or community service.

"The panel has real potential to reduce re-offending and victimisation in Waitematā, as well as keeping young people off the pathway of crime that leads to prison," Mr Nash said.

"At around $100,000 per year per inmate, we can't keep building American-style mega prisons every few years as the main feature of our justice policy.

"Early research shows re-offending by those who have gone through a panel hearing is around 12 per cent lower than other justice processes.

"They are particularly effective in reducing offending by young Maori between 17 and 24.

"We know they aren't the whole answer, and that they won’t work for everybody.

"But we are bringing a fresh set of eyes to the challenges of our justice system."

Police also today opened a new community policing base in Beachlands, where they say they had noticed a slow increase in the amount of crime, especially when visitors came there over summer.

Before the opening of the base, the nearest police station was 20km away.

A police emblem on the sleeve of an officer.
A police emblem on the sleeve of an officer. Source: 1 NEWS