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NZBA Expresses Concerns Over Government's Withdrawal of Funding for Sentencing Reports

Sunday 11 February 2024, 6:04AM

By Expert Briefing

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The New Zealand Bar Association (NZBA) has expressed concerns over the government's decision to withdraw funding for sentencing reports under Section 27 of the Sentencing Act 2002.

The NZBA believes that this move will make it harder for judges to impose appropriate sentences, undermine rehabilitation efforts, and increase reoffending rates.

Maria Dew KC, President of the NZBA, stated that these outcomes are not desirable for the government, the legal profession, or the public.

Rachael Reed KC, Co-Chair of the Bar Association Criminal Committee, added that Section 27 reports allow judges to consider the appropriate sentence, chances of successful rehabilitation, and available support.

Currently, offenders who qualify for legal aid can apply for funding for the preparation of a report. However, the government has announced that it will introduce legislation to prevent legal aid from being used to pay for these reports.

The NZBA argues that this will disadvantage those who cannot afford to pay for the reports and limit access to important information.

The NZBA has invited the government to consider the evidence about the impact of Section 27 sentencing reports since their use to determine whether the cost/benefit justifies their continuation, taking into account reoffending rates and rehabilitation gains made.