Pre-charge warnings shift focus from diversion scheme

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 13:30 31/01/2013

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The number of people completing the police diversion scheme in Southland has halved in the past five years.

Successfully completed diversions in the Southland police area, which includes Invercargill, Gore and Te Anau, dropped from 299 in 2008 to 147 last year.

Southern district prosecution manager Senior Sergeant Amelia Steel said the number of diversions had significantly reduced since the introduction of pre-charge warnings in September 2010. Pre-charge warnings aimed to develop better alternatives to hold offenders to account for less serious offending without using the court.

The introduction of the New Zealand Police Prevention First strategy meant adult diversion could have a greater rehabilitative focus than in previous years, she said.

"In line with the Police Prevention First strategy, the police prosecution service is refocusing the priority of diversion by putting prevention and the needs of the victim at the forefront.

"This is achieved by ensuring diversion conditions focus on the reparation to the victim and rehabilitation for the offender."

Diversion is generally not considered for sexual, serious drug, violence or burglary offences, court order breaches, purely indictable offences and some traffic offences.

In 2009 there were 336 successfully completed diversions in Southland, 288 in 2010 and 185 in 2011.

WHAT IS DIVERSION? The Police Adult Diversion Scheme is a scheme that allows for some offenders who have been charged to be dealt with in an out of court way. If the offender completes agreed conditions, the prosecutor can seek to have the charge withdrawn and a conviction will not be recorded. Source: NZ Police

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