"The bail laws continue to place the public in grave danger - particularly where the offender is also being treated by the utterly flawed mental health system" says Sensible Sentencing Trust National Spokesperson Garth McVicar.
In October, a Tauranga man, Bevan Peter Brown, was arrested in the street while armed with a knife. He told police he was on his way to a supermarket where he intended to stab someone. Police had been warned about him by a mental health worker who knew Brown. He was arrested, charged, and released back on the street after the police did not oppose bail. - See our editorial here
"How on earth can this have happened?" says McVicar "Did they give him his knife back too? He got one from somewhere, because shortly after his release on bail he carried out the aggravated robbery of a dairy after holding the owner at knifepoint."
"Here is a guy who is known to be armed and dangerous, picked up on the street; by his own admission on his way to commit a serious violent offence. How can it be that the police did not oppose bail? How can it be that the Justice system as a whole did not heed the warning from the mental health worker who knew the offender?"
"This is the latest in a string of failures by the system which is supposed to protect the public from dangerous mentally ill offenders" said Mc Vicar.
"Two weeks ago we had a panel discussion to discuss this very issue: the safe management of the dangerous mentally ill; those who were once known as the "criminally insane". On that very day the media reported two cases, at opposite ends of the country, where mentally ill offenders attacked members of the public"
"In one case the victim survived; the other he did not. This has got to stop" said McVicar.
"In a recent documentary, the Associate Health Minister said that in the vast majority, if not all cases, mentally ill offenders in the community posed no risk. This is clearly utter nonsense." McVicar said.
"Just this year at least two people have lost their lives at the hands of mentally ill offenders let out of psychiatric institutions. Legislation to align our law with that of Australia and increase public safety is sitting drafted ready to go, but the government say nothing needs to change" said McVicar.
"We disagree - and so does anyone else who knows what is happening. When another victim is killed or seriously injured in such circumstances the government will have blood on its hands" McVicar said.