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Not all happy with smacking bill amendment.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 3, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Not all happy with smacking bill amendment.
Thursday, 03.05.2007, 08:49am (GMT12)

Not all happy with smacking bill amendment

By IAN STEWARD – The Press | Thursday, 3 May 2007


Police and child welfare agencies welcomed the clause inserted into the child-discipline bill yesterday, while some parents still decried being “criminalised”.


The clause gives police the discretion to not prosecute parents for offences “so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding”.

Police Association president Greg O’Connor said the clause represented “MMP at its finest”.

“It ensures an important element of policing is retained – the ability to use discretion. What front-line police had feared was that they would have no choice but to arrest people, but now it empowers the people who should have the power, and that is senior sergeants.”

O’Connor said the law was the only one he could think of that enshrined discretion which until now had been a tacit understanding.

Christchurch radio personality and father of four Simon Barnett said the law was now more confusing than ever.

“Police will have to be judge and jury and make a decision on the spot. I feel this is going to make it extremely tough for them.”

Barnett said he thought officers would “err on the side of caution” in the event that a case not acted upon turned serious. “I think John Key’s intentions were good but I think parents will feel let down by him.”

The Anglican Bishop of Christchurch, David Coles, said the clause was “a very helpful outcome”.

“There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about it being a drama about personal freedom in the home, but it’s not about that at all. It’s about removing a defence to abuse.”

Barnardos Canterbury general manager Jackie Maurice said she was “happy with the way the bill was”, but “the more the issues are debated, the better”.

Canterbury University social welfare senior fellow Mike Doolan said the change amounted to the law as it stands now. “Police have always had that discretion. They use it all the time by addressing things with warnings and diversions.”

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