Labour: Judith Collins 'shifting goalposts' on re-offending rates

Judith Collins (AAP)
Judith Collins (AAP)

The Minister of Corrections has admitted the Government will fail to achieve a self-imposed target to reduce criminal re-offending.

The goal, set six years ago, was to slash re-offending rates 25 percent by 2017, which would have resulted in 18,500 fewer victims every year.

Today Judith Collins told The Nation that while there are fewer re-offenders, the rate of re-offending hasn't dropped significantly.

The 25 percent reduction target is far from the current 6.7 percent reduction in overall re-offending.

With the goalposts nearly out of sight, it appears the Government may now be trying to move them -- the minister firmly focused on the fact that the number of recidivists has dropped.

"Oh it's a huge win, a huge win to have 25 percent fewer people coming back into the system," Ms Collins said.

But Labour isn't buying that.

"Her message today was incoherent. Are people safe in their houses? No. Are prisoners being rehabilitated? No. Is the minister on top of her game? No," Labour's Kelvin Davis said.

In a speech to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce in 2012, Prime Minister John Key said he wanted re-offending to be reduced. The goal was part of 10 expectations -- not a wish list, he said, but a to-do list.

"I don't have problems with people setting lofty targets. I think that's a good thing, but we've got to see the results against that target -- not shift the goalposts," Mr Davis said.

Prisoner rehabilitation group PARS says the drop in the number of re-offenders is hugely positive, but believes more needs to be done around prevention.

"A lot of this starts from vulnerable families and from vulnerable children, so trying to get them at an early age to avoid them from suffering at the hands of people as well as becoming people that cause suffering," a PARS spokesperson said.

The Government says it's looking at strategies to deal with the worst re-offenders, including targeted mental health and addiction programmes.