The New Zealand Law Society (NZLS) has thrown its support behind the government’s newly announced social investment approach to the criminal justice system.
“The Law Society is keen to be involved in this government initiative. We would welcome the opportunity for input and consultation with the [Justice Minister] on this fresh approach to tackling the root causes of social crime,” Kathryn Beck, NZLS president, said.
The plan itself could benefit many members of local communities who struggle to stick up for themselves, she said, noting that the approach was aimed at addressing core issues such as preventing crime, reducing harm and stopping victims from being victimised in the first place.
Justice Minister Amy Adams announced the details of the scheme on Tuesday (3 May).
“Across the board, the government is taking significant steps to better protect the vulnerable in our society,” Adams said. “One of the best things we can do to support victims is to stop them from ever becoming one.”
The Minister announced an investment of $2 million from the Justice Sector Fund to go towards the program. A major part of this will be an advanced online data analysis system that gives agencies within the justice sector more information to plan, predict and invest.
“The new approach will ensure organisations involved in crime prevention have access to high-quality data analytics and modelling, helping them to make better informed decisions about where to invest to make the biggest difference,” Adams said.
It will also allow authorities to create a clearer picture of who is experiencing what crimes and where, potential patterns of offending behaviour, and methods of adapting justice sector programs to optimise their impact, she added.
NZLS president, Kathryn Beck, approved of this strategy.
“The Law Society is encouraged by the Minister pointing to this improved range of data enabling better coordination with areas like health, education, and social services to try to prevent today’s vulnerable young people ever becoming offenders of the future,” she said.
The information provided allows users to explore graphs of adult conviction data together with a searchable collection of research and evaluation reports by the Ministry, Beck added.
“The Datalab in particular is an excellent tool for gaining a broad overview of crime statistics. The Ministry is to be commended for its initiative.”