A Bill seeking to strengthen how agencies verify the identity of offenders has passed its second reading in Parliament with overwhelming support, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.

The Enhancing Identity Verification and Border Processes Legislation Bill will improve public safety by enabling agencies to work together to identify offenders and ensure they meet the conditions of their sentence.

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

“This Bill will authorise justice, identity and border agencies to share information with each other to identify high-risk offenders and protect New Zealanders from harm,” says Ms Adams.

“For example, Police will be able to get real-time identity information from Corrections about a dangerous offender who is unaccounted for, and Customs will know instantly if an absconder tries to leave New Zealand.

“We want to keep the public safe from some of our worst offenders by ensuring that high-risk individuals cannot hide who they are through the use of multiple aliases, or leave New Zealand without permission.

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

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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