Act Party talks tough on burglary

By Sophie Ryan

Act Party leader Jamie Whyte. Photo / Natalie Slade
Act Party leader Jamie Whyte. Photo / Natalie Slade

More than 2000 families will return home this Easter weekend to find they have been burgled, and Act says it is the only NZ political party to offer a serious solution.

Party leader Jamie Whyte outlined its policy on the crime today, confirming that burglars will spend three years in prison if convicted of the crime for a third time under its policy.

It is similar to the three strikes law for violent crime - also an Act policy - where judges are required to sentence offenders who commit a third violent crime to the maximum sentence without parole.

The policy was first announced last month by Mr Whyte, who said it would deter would-be burglars from offending.

Less than two percent of burglaries resulted in a term of imprisonment last year, Mr Whyte said, and the Act party's policy would change this.

The maximum sentence for burglary is ten years imprisonment. The three strikes for burglary policy would send all burglars to prison for at least three years without parole if convicted of the offence three times, whether it be in one burglary spree or over many years.

"Burglary is a serious crime that causes misery to tens of thousands of New Zealanders every year,'' Mr Whyte said.

"Burglary is a problem that requires strong political leadership. Act is the only party with a policy that can significantly reduce this blight on our society.''

Juveniles who commit burglary offences would carry their offences through to adulthood, and if convicted as an adult would then be subject to the penalties of a third strike.

Mr Whyte said burglars convicted of one or two charges of burglary will not see any change to their sentence, except that a judge would warn the offender of the serious penalty of another offence.

Mr Whyte said the current three strikes policy for violent crime suggested a three strikes regime for burglars would not lead to a spike in prison population.

Mr Whyte said currently about 4000 New Zealanders are sitting on a first strike, 32 on a second strike and no one has been convicted of a third strike offence under the three strikes for violent crimes policy.

He expected the same deterrence effect to happen with burglars.

"Our view is that any increase in prison population will be moderate. Indeed, if it has the deterrent effect we expect, it may ultimately decrease the prison population.''

The policy is modelled on a three strikes for burglary law introduced in England and Wales in 1999. Burglary in England has since dropped by 35 per cent since the introduction of the three strikes. After a third conviction for burglary offenders in England are imprisoned for three years with parole.

- NZ Herald

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