Labour: Murder pays less than dog cases
Funding cuts to Crown solicitors mean one solicitor is paid more to prosecute dangerous dog owners than murderers, according to information obtained by Labour.
A Crown Law memo to Attorney-General Chris Finlayson, gained under the Official Information Act, shows the effect ruthless funding cuts are having on criminal prosecutions, says Labour's David Parker.
The Government earlier this year said it would be put another $5 million a year into Crown Law over the next four years.
However, in the last three years its annual funding dropped 25 percent from $43 million to $33 million.
Some firms had predicted they would lose up to 40 percent of their funding, Mr Parker said.
One Crown solicitor stated their local council paid a higher hourly rate to prosecute dangerous dog owners that the Crown did to prosecute murderers, Mr Parker said.
"And that this is likely not uncommon across the country. That's astounding."
The funding cuts had also led to solicitors retiring their Crown warrant, firms unable to retain senior staff and worries about losing overworked staff to commercial law firms, he said.
Mr Parker said Crown lawyers had to be adequately funded to do their job properly and enforce the law through the courts.
"This prosecution system is clearly under extreme pressure."
Lawyers had said their clients were pleading guilty to reduced charges, Mr Parker said.
In the past concerns have been raised that because of budget cuts, lesser charges were being agreed to so as to avoid lengthy and expensive trials.