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No-show excuses include bondage

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  • No-show excuses include bondage

    Bondage and discipline are among the wild and varied excuses heard by Taranaki probation officers when offenders fail to turn up for community work.

    In one case, a New Plymouth man arrived late to the morning muster in tow with a sheepish woman friend, Community Probation Service manager Ann Kensington, New Plymouth, said.

    The man's girlfriend had tied him to the bed, he told his probation officer.

    But despite the excuse – and the eye witness – it did not cut the mustard with the officer. The tardy man duly received an official warning.

    Two more warnings and the "three strikes and you're out" rule kicked in with the offender sent back to court for

    re-sentencing, Mrs Kensington said.

    The tough line taken locally meant Taranaki scored one of the best community work sentence attendance rates in the country, she said.

    Ninety per cent of the colourful excuses were followed up on, Mrs Kensington said.

    "Some can have 32 grandmothers die," she said.

    "Nationally New Plymouth has one of the highest breach rates in the country because we don't put up with excuses.

    "Most know they won't get away with it.

    "They get on with completing it as quickly as they can."

    Mrs Kensington was responding to National's law and order spokesman Tony Ryall who called for a tougher stance on community work sentencing.

    Only half the offenders ordered by the courts to perform community work around the country were bothering to turn up, Mr Ryall said.

    National Party figures, compiled from an official information act request, have Hawera's November reporting rate as 58% and New Plymouth's on 69%.

    This compared with the best (Gore 72%) and worst (Rotorua 23%) in the country.

    Mr Ryall said burglars, wifebeaters and shoplifters were all thumbing their noses at the justice system and their victims.

    "Community work has become a Clayton's sentence," he said.

    "Why would anyone take this sentence seriously when so few people actually turn up and do their time?"

    Corrections Minister Paul Swain said he would be seeking better reporting on the new sentencing option.

    Offenders who thought they could dawdle their way through their sentence needed to think again, he said.

    "Vigorous enforcement action is being taken against people who do not do their community work as agreed, and I fully support this initiative," Mr Swain said.

    Source->The Daily News
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