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Controversial Electronic Bail Scheme To Get Govt Scrutiny

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Simon Power
Simon Power

Wellington, March 7 NZPA - The controversial electronic bail scheme is to come under the government spotlight after a series of breaches.

The scheme, introduced in September 2006, allows offenders who would normally be kept in custody to wear an electronic bracelet at home. An alarm sounds if they leave their home without permission.

Fifteen of the 237 people granted electronic bail were charged with further crimes while on the scheme, according to information the Dominion Post obtained under the Official Information Act.

Less than four months after the scheme's introduction, two police officers were attacked by a man after a car chase through Mt Wellington, Auckland.

In another incident in April, a man with a drug and alcohol addiction was granted electronic bail, despite strong opposition from police.

Less than a month later the man held a knife to his partner's throat and then beat her "black and blue", documents reveal.

She escaped from the house and it took six officers to drag the man "naked and screaming" from the property.

The Government has already committed to toughening all bail laws.

Justice Minister Simon Power, a fierce critic of the electronic bail system when an opposition MP, confirmed the scheme would get special attention.

"It needs a thoroughly good look at. I think it has been badly applied and it can't continue to operate in an environment in which people continue to be put at risk."

A start date for the review had yet to be set.

Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar welcomed the review, saying the system should be pulled to bits and power given back to judges.

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