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The ability of agencies to verify the identity of high-risk offenders will be strengthened following the passage of the Enhancing Identity Verification and Border Processes Legislation Bill, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.

“The Bill will improve public safety by enabling justice, identity and border agencies to share information with each other to identify offenders and ensure they meet the conditions of their sentence,” says Ms Adams.

The reforms are part of a wider Government response to the inquiry into the escape of Phillip Smith/Traynor, which highlighted the need for agencies to be able to share and manage information in the justice sector more efficiently.

“We need to ensure that high-risk offenders cannot hide who they are through the use of multiple aliases, or leave New Zealand without permission, just as Mr Smith/Traynor did,” says Ms Adams.

“This Bill will provide certain agencies with real-time access to up-to-date and unalterable information to enable them to identify offenders and protect New Zealanders from harm.

“The Bill strikes the right balance between upholding public safety and protecting the privacy of individuals by providing clear parameters around the circumstances in which information can be accessed.”

Alongside the existing privacy protections outlined in the Privacy Act, these parameters include limiting the information that can be shared to identity information (for example, passport information), limiting the agencies that can share it and the circumstances under which they can do so.

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