The Government’s Criminal Justice Summit is nothing more than a public relations exercise to try to justify its plans to go soft on crime, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.

“It is apparent that the Government has already pre-determined the outcome of the Criminal Justice Summit, and that’s to loosen up our bail, parole and sentencing laws.

“We know this because it has chosen to downsize Waikeria Prison by 1000 beds, even though forecasts from the Government’s own officials show that the prison population is set to rise by 4100 in the next nine years.

“Responding to a forecast increase of 4100 more prisoners – over 2000 more than the previous forecast indicated – by slashing the number of new beds at Waikeria Prison by 1000 shows that the Government knows exactly what it wants to do with our justice system.

“New Zealand will be thousands of prison beds short so the Government simply won’t be able to lock away all the serious offenders it needs to in order to keep our communities safe.

“And the Government has already said it wants to cut the prison population by a third, but doesn’t have a corresponding plan to reduce crime and the number of victims.

“Instead, it looks like the Government is just going to make it easier for criminals to get out of prison and harder for them to get there in the first place.

“Justice Minister Andrew Little knows that New Zealanders won’t stand for this so he has set up this Summit to try to justify the Government’s unpopular plans.

“If the Summit was genuinely about looking at ways to reduce crime, then National would support that. But all the talk from this Government so far has been focused on having fewer prisoners, rather than fewer victims.

“National will do everything we can to stop the Government putting criminals ahead of victims and hardworking Kiwis.”

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