Labour MP defends justice summit

A Labour MP has hit back at criticism the Government's justice summit was too focused on offenders and ignored victims.

"This has been quite a horrendous summit for victims of crime, because we've been re-victimised," Jayne Crothall, a victim of crime, told Newshub earlier this week. "I definitely think we've been frozen out."

Even Justice Minister Andrew Little acknowledged the focus of the latest meetings was "certainly very dominated by the needs of offenders".

First-term Labour MP Michael Wood of the Mt Roskill electorate told The AM Show on Friday there were "quite a few victims there" who got to speak.

"I would say victims were a focus."

The summit is aimed at reforming the justice system. Mr Little has previously said he wants prison numbers to come down 30 percent over the next 15 years.

While National says this will result in violent offenders serving shorter sentences, Mr Wood says that won't necessarily be the case.

"There's no current plan to have a mass let-out of people. We want a more intelligent system that results in fewer crimes and fewer victimisations, and that will result in fewer people in prison."

So rather than letting people out, he wants fewer people to end up behind bars in the first place - not through lenience in the law, but eliminating the conditions which push people towards crime.

"The current system does have a huge number of people who cycle through the system, who we never properly rehabilitate, who often have horrific situations going right back that put them on the path. If we want to have less victims, we've got to fix that stuff. The current situation is not working."

Judith Collins and Michael Wood.
Judith Collins and Michael Wood. Photo credit: The AM Show

Former Police and Justice Minister Judith Collins, appearing with Mr Wood on The AM Show, said not all prisoners can be rehabilitated.

"We say, 'Can't Corrections rehabilitate them?' We put so much effort in, but when you go back to a family where people just bash each other, there's drugs, alcohol... You can actually rehabilitate in some cases, when people are ready for it... but the success rate in rehabilitation is not enormous."

She says crime rates have been going down thanks to the kind of tough-on-crime policies she backs.

"Our crime rate has dropped as some people who are serious violent offenders have remained in prison. There's a correlation, so let's just get sensible about this. Who are the laws for? Isn't it for people who don't commit the crimes?"

She said while she expected the summit would generate a lot of talk and little action, she's keeping an open mind.