Pre-charge warnings 'need more study'
JOHN EDENS IN QUEENSTOWN
The president of the New Zealand Court of Appeal says more work is needed to evaluate the introduction of pre-charge warnings in the criminal justice system.
Justice O'Regan, speaking at the International Criminal Law Congress in Queenstown, said the crime rate and prison population in New Zealand was falling, in part because of an ageing population.
He said the introduction of pre-charge warnings in 2009 was an active approach to prosecutorial discretion and caseloads in district courts.
Lord Justice Leveson in Britain raised concerns about that country's pre-prosecution warning system, saying judges were not police and police were not judges.
The New Zealand criminal justice needed to consider whether the concerns raised in England resonated here, Justice O'Regan said.
"The difference between a pre-charge warning and a prosecution is significant for the offender. The decision maker has a considerable responsibility and is exercising considerable power.
"No doubt similar questions can be asked about other pre-trial methods," Justice O'Regan said.
The pre-charge system was perhaps neglected, and questions included how best to implement such a system and the range of eligible offences, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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