Police respond to concerns cutting remand numbers will see more offenders in community

  • 03/11/2023

More offenders could be out in the community as police look to cut the soaring number of people on remand, a briefing to the Government suggests. 

If numbers weren't cut back, prisons would likely be almost half full of people on remand in 10 years - with it currently at 44 percent.  

It's also been revealed the Government was briefed on this months ago. 

Deputy Police Commissioner Jevon McSkimming told AM processes needed to be sped up, so offenders spent less time in limbo. 

"Since about 2017, the number of people on remand has continued to trend upwards... really, what we're seeking to do is to make that time as short as possible not only for the sake of the person who has been charged but also their victims associated with those charges," McSkimming said. 

According to the police's March briefing to the Government, as reported by RNZ: "Fewer people on remand necessarily means more perpetrators remaining in the community, with greater demand on police response to risk escalation or incidents." 

However, McSkimming said its decisions around letting people out on bail hadn't changed. 

"If we believe a person is unsafe to be in the community, we'll be seeking those people to be held in custody just like we always have. 

"What that briefing actually said was, 'Police supports the reduction of the time people are on remand' - not that we are seeking to change our behaviour. So, what we are looking at doing is improving our processes so that we contribute to a more efficient and effective justice system so that the person who has been charged is in the remand process for a lesser period of time." 

He said that could also mean an offender gets sentenced to prison more quickly. 

"We have to look at ways where we make a system more effective and more efficient so that the court processes are not [a] hold-up. Now, police may contribute to that, so we've got to look at our own systems, processes and practices to really streamline that." 

The idea of speeding up the remand process was freeing up prison space so the most high-risk offenders could be behind bars, he said. 

Watch the full video for more.