Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft has called for the right to silence to be abolished, saying that "the fact you might incriminate yourself isn't a reason for not talking".

Becroft's comments come in the wake of the brutal assault on a four-year-old in Hawke's Bay.

Police say the boy, who is in a stable condition at Starship children's hospital, suffered a sustained beating - possibly over days - at a Flaxmere address in late January and will most likely suffer from brain damage.

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Speaking to Newshub this morning, Becroft said: "I think [the right to silence] needs to be abolished or amended."

"The state can't force you to incriminate yourself and in my years as a lawyer and judge I held that dear," he said.

"In this role I've come to the view that we need to take a serious look into that."

"I think we will be looking at it very closely."

Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft. Photo / File
Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft. Photo / File

University of Canterbury criminology lecturer Professor Greg Newbold told NZME last week that a revised law under The Crimes Amendment Act - brought in after the trial over the death of the Kahui twins - meant anyone who has frequent contact and knows that the victim is at risk of death, grievous bodily harm, or sexual assault or fails to take reasonable steps to protect the victim from risk, could face prosecution.

Those people can be a member of the same household as the victim or a staff member of any hospital, institution or residence where the victim resides.

The maximum sentence for a charge of failing to protect a child or vulnerable adult from risk of death, or grievous bodily harm, is 10 years' jail.

Becroft's comments echo those made by Police Association President Chris Cahill last week.


Cahill said under the current law in the Bill Of Rights Act an individual has the right to not give a statement.

"It's an issue we come across all the time in cases such as this, and we think it is time to look at those rights to silence."

The scene of the assault on a 4-year-old boy in Flaxmere. Photo / Hawke's Bay Today
The scene of the assault on a 4-year-old boy in Flaxmere. Photo / Hawke's Bay Today

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says someone knows how the four-year-old boy was brutally bashed, and has urged any silent family members who have information to come forward.

Ardern said cases like that of the Flaxmere boy, who remained in a stable condition in Starship Hospital, likely with brain damage, were "devastating".

"I know we are a country that wants all our children to live free from violence - but that is going to continue to take our ongoing effort and commitment," Ardern said.

"In the meantime, someone knows what happened to this child, and I urge them to come forward."