Law Commission consulting on laws related to serious sexual and violent offenders

Fri 16 Jun 2023

Te Aka Matua o te Ture | the Law Commission is inviting feedback on the laws that keep the community safe from people at high risk of serious sexual and violent offending. This includes preventive detention, extended supervision orders and public protection orders. Submissions are due by 28 July 2023.

photograph of a gold justice scales with a laptop to the side

Law Commission review of preventive detention and post-sentence orders

Te Aka Matua o te Ture | the Law Commission is reviewing the laws aimed at protecting the public from reoffending risks posed by some offenders who have been convicted of serious sexual or violent crimes.

The closing date to make a submission is 28 July 2023.

The name of the review is Public safety and serious offenders: a review of preventive detention and post-sentence orders | Hapori whānui me te tangata mōrea nui: he arotake o te mauhere ārai hē me ngā ōta nō muri whakawhiu.

The review includes preventive detention, extended supervision orders and public protection orders. These laws allow the detention or supervision of an offender beyond a fixed-term prison sentence. For the court to order detention or supervision, the offender must have been convicted of a qualifying sexual or violent offence and present risks of further sexual or violent offending.

This review was prompted by findings by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2017 that the laws governing preventive detention were in breach of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. The Law Commission Issues paper also notes that the Court of Appeal has recently held that extended supervision orders and public protection orders breach the prohibition under human rights law against punishing a person twice for the same crime.  

The Law Commission review information says:

“The review will consider whether the laws adequately provide for public protection while respecting the human rights of persons subject to detention or supervision. It will consider te ao Māori and te Tiriti o Waitangi | Treaty of Waitangi, especially in light of tikanga Māori approaches towards criminal justice and the over-representation of Māori among those subject to preventive detention and post-sentence orders. It will also focus on ways to improve the coherence and accessibility of the law.”

The Law Commission is seeking feedback on a number of issues. Some of the key issues include:

  • whether and how the law could better enable Māori to live in accordance with tikanga and give effect to obligations under te Tiriti o Waitangi | Treaty of Waitangi
  • whether the law should have a stronger focus on providing therapeutic and rehabilitative treatment to people who need to be detained or supervised
  • human rights of offenders related to arbitrary detention and being punished twice for the same crime
  • the eligibility of young adults for indeterminate imprisonment 
  • criteria for preventive detention, extended supervision orders and public protection orders
  • whether the legislative tests for imposing these laws are at the right level of likelihood and severity; and whether theses tests focus inappropriately on certain traits and behavioural characteristics
  • limitations of assessments of the risk a person will offend in the future
  • conditions on which a person can be managed in the community on an extended supervision order or on parole from preventive detention.

The Frequently Asked questions for this review also has a brief summary of key issues.

The Law Commission has published Issues Paper 51 that outlines the issues and questions for feedback for this review. The Issues Paper Executive Summary provides a short overview and a number of questions for feedback. The Law Commission has also published an easy read format: Issues Paper 51 - Easy Engagement Consultation Paper.

John-Luke Day, Principal Adviser at the Law Commission, said:

“The law should strike the right balance. It needs to keep the community safe by preventing high-risk people from further serious offending. At the same time, it needs to protect the human rights of people who are detained or under supervision."

You can sign up for updates on this review.

How to make a submission

The issues paper has many questions. You do not need to answer all questions. You can comment on or answer questions on select topics.

To make a submission, send feedback to or by post to Review of Preventive Detention and Post-Sentence Orders Law Commission, PO Box 2590, Wellington 6140.

Related media

Hospital bed video interview with victim unfairly prejudicial, claims partner who viciously attacked her, NZ Herald, 28.06.2023

What to do with some of the worst offenders: Law Commission asks for feedback, Stuff, 08.06.2023

Image: Ekaterina Bolovtsova on Pexels

More news articles about Government