"Investment Approach" to Justice outlined - family violence

Wed 04 May 2016

Justice Minister Amy Adams has outlined how the Government plans to apply the Social Investment approach to the Justice system. Ms Adams said ...

Justice Minister Amy Adams has outlined how the Government plans to apply the Social Investment approach to the Justice system. Ms Adams said family violence is a "key area where we are actively applying the Investment Approach."

Ms Adams said, "The Ministerial Group on Family and Sexual Violence, which I co-chair with Social Development Minister Anne Tolley, is taking an investment approach to family violence to target support where it will make the biggest difference. Each year we spend $1.4 billion on family violence. We’ve done a stocktake and our analysis shows that less than 10 per cent of that spend is focused on prevention. We are instead predominantly addressing the impacts of family violence, like prison costs and victim recovery. It’s another example of how the system focuses on reacting to the worst criminal offending, rather than doing more to address it early on.

By taking a long-term view, the Investment Approach also offers the potential to disrupt inter-generational patterns of crime. For example, we know that 7 per cent of children born in 1993 have been referred to CYFs because of exposure to family violence. The outcomes for these children have been poor, and many have begun offending themselves, continuing the vicious circle of offending.

Other sobering statistics about this specific group of children include:

  • 44 per cent left school before the age of 17 & 57 per cent didn’t get NCEA level 2
  • Before the age of 19, 52 per cent had received a main benefit
  • By aged 21 it’s estimated that 15 per cent will have had a Corrections sentence and 5 per cent will have been in prison.

This information clearly shows that inter-generational patterns of offending are real, can be predicted using information on the IDI, and that exposure to family violence is a particularly important risk factor. The Investment Approach is about taking the next step. Having identified groups of people at risk of offending and victimisation in the future, we are now focusing on what we can do to disrupt the vicious circle of inter-generational offending today."

Ms Adams also said "we know that in family violence one per cent of NZ adults suffer 62 per cent of family violence, meaning it has one of the highest re-victimisation rates across offence types."

The four workstreams involved in the Investment Approach to Justice are:

(1) measuring the burden that crime places on society, and how to understand if investments are reducing it
(2) building the statistical, actuarial models to help understand who is most at risk of future offending and victimisation
(3) understanding what works to reduce crime
(4) "connecting these insights with decision-makers across the system and taking different decisions as a result"

So far, $2 million of additional funding from the Justice Sector Fund has been invested alongside the core work of officials. PwC has also been brought on board to assist the Ministry of Justice on work stream two and the development of the underpinning actuarial models.

Ms Adams noted that NZ's rate of imprisonment rate per capita is high by international standards, saying "In 2014/15 New Zealand imprisoned 194 people out of every 100,000 people. This placed us seventh-highest in the OECD just behind Mexico. We’re 27 per cent higher than Australia and 40 per cent higher than the UK. " She also noted that Māori are over-represented in the criminal justice system as both victims and perpetrators and are six times more likely to end up in prison than non-Māori.

Ms Adams concluded by saying, "The point here is that when CYFs are involved in a neglect case – that is an opportunity for future crime to be prevented. When a primary teacher is dealing with a kid who is truanting – that is an opportunity for future crime to be prevented. When a doctor deals with an abused kid – that is an opportunity for future crime to be prevented."


Calls for making the investment approach the mainstream way,

State of the State report: Government needs to focus on 'root causes', Stuff, 09.05.2016

Law Society supports new approach to justice sector investment, NZ Law Society, 05.05.2016

Moko's death raises debate over child abuse prevention, Newshub, 03.05.2016

'Investment approach to justice' to be unveiled, NewstalkZB, 03.05.2016

New approach to justice sector investment, Beehive: Amy Adams, 03.05.2016

Social Investment in the Criminal Justice System, Beehive: Amy Adams, 03.05.2016

Image: iStock