Revealed: Thousands of community work sentences cancelled due to Delta outbreak

Newshub can reveal thousands of offenders aren't doing the full time for their crimes - because of COVID-19. 

Almost 74,000 hours of community work sentences have been cancelled since the start of the Delta outbreak in August.

Robert Te Whare calls the offenders doing their community sentences "the boys". And the boys do a jumble of jobs.

"Doing the lawns, digging the drains, building fences - there's all sorts they can do here at the gardens. 

"They're very helpful, very helpful - for us, and for them. A lot of them love coming here," he said. 

But Newshub can reveal thousands of community work hours, like the ones the boys do at the gardens, have been canned because of COVID restrictions.

But Department of Corrections Chief Probation Officer Darius Fagan says offenders are still doing most of their time. 

"This isn't sentences being cancelled because the remanence of the sentence has to be served."

But victims advocate Ruth Money says wiping even a portion of a sentence isn't justice.

"There's no punishment, there's no sentence, there's no accountability."

Instead she wants the hours postponed.

"It's the Department of Corrections interfering with victim's rights."

And the National Party agrees. National's police spokesperson Simeon Brown says it shows the Government is soft on crime. 

"They always choose the soft option when it comes to criminals. If you do the crime, you do the time and that timeframe should have been extended."

But Fagan says only offenders doing well had time wiped. 

"People that weren't making progress on their community work order - they haven't been given credit."

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis told Newshub in a statement the majority of these sentences were for minor offences, like traffic fines and it wouldn't be fair to them to drag out their community work.

This raises questions over whether the Government is stepping on judges toes - government overreaching into the judiciary is one of the biggest no-noes in any democracy.