Tougher sentences are on the way for criminals who cook up methamphetamine in homes where children are present.
NZ First MP Asenati Lole-Taylor's member's bill which would make criminal activity in the presence of a minor an aggravating factor during sentencing passed its first reading in Parliament yesterday with unanimous support.
The bill notes criminal offending by adults often exposes minors to serious harm.
"A primary example of such offending is the production of drugs, particularly methamphetamine. Production of these substances is regularly conducted in residential buildings, putting the lives and health of resident children at risk of poisoning and burns resulting from the highly dangerous and unstable chemicals used in such production.
Minors are often innocent parties to criminal offending by adults, and deserve protection from adult offending that puts them at risk of harm."
Mrs Lole-Taylor said the figures around the issue were "staggering" with 460 children were found at crime scenes between 2010-2011.
"What is more disturbing is that children were present in 37 per cent of P-Labs and 73 per cent of drug houses."
"We cannot sit idly by and allow more children to be exposed to crime - and the time has come for people who commit crime in the presence of minors to pay for it come sentencing day."
The legislation is now being considered by Parliament's law and order committee.
"I encourage New Zealanders to have their say on this Bill during the Select Committee process", said Mrs Lole-Taylor.