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National To Get Tough On Child Abusers

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key
John Key

People who kill, abuse or neglect children will get tougher sentences under National, party leader John Key said today.

Announcing another set of law and order policies, Mr Key said violence against children would not be tolerated.

"National will substantially increase penalties for people who cause the death of a child by manslaughter where there is a clear history of abuse or neglect," he said.

"I am concerned that offenders who commit acts of violence and abuse against children often receive shorter sentences than if they had offended against adults."

Mr Key said he had been horrified to learn that the maximum sentence for assaulting a child was just two years -- shorter than the three-year maximum sentence for wilfully ill-treating an animal.

"That is wrong and that will change," he said.

"National will increase sentences for failure to provide the necessities of life, child cruelty or wilful ill-treatment of a child, assault on a child, and wilful neglect."

Mr Key also said National would make it more difficult for offenders to be given home detention.

"In 2006/07 more than 50 percent of the offenders on home detention had convictions for violent, sexual and drug offences compared to 39 percent in 2001/02," he said.

"Home detention should be available only to low-level offenders so we will re-assess its appropriateness as a sentence for violent, sex and drug offenders."

Another change National would make was to bail laws because too many offenders were breaching their conditions, he said.

Corrections Minister Phil Goff said the Sentencing Act 2002 already made the vulnerability of the victim an aggravating factor in sentencing for murder, automatically extending the minimum period before parole from 10 years to 17 years.

"It is deliberately misleading and deceitful for John Key to pretend that the maximum sentence for assaulting a child is two years," he said.

"That applies to lesser offences only. For more serious attacks other charges would be brought such as cruelty to a child where a more serious penalty of up to five years imprisonment applies."

Mr Goff said the law on preventive detention, a sentence of indefinite imprisonment, was changed in 2002 so it could be applied to more offenders.

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