August 25, 2009
This project began on 17th March 2007, three months prior to enactment. It ended on 22nd June 2009 two years after enactment.
Regular updates have been published since June 2007. This final report includes the 5th monitoring period (5th April 2009 to 22nd June 2009) not previously reported.
During the two years police brought one prosecution for smacking which was subsequently withdrawn. A further 13 prosecutions were brought for events classified as “minor acts of physical discipline”. These events may have included a smacking element plus other aggravating factors.
Of those 14 cases prosecuted sentences included diversion, discharge without conviction, conviction and discharged, and supervision.
Deputy Commissioner (Operations) Rob Pope says the monitoring shows police have consistently applied their discretion when dealing with child assault events.
“The amendment has had minimal impact on police activity and officers have continued to apply a commonsense approach”
“The monitoring has shown that practice guidelines issued by the Commissioner in June 2007 have been effective in guiding police when dealing with these difficult cases”
“Police has continued to apply its discretion and assess each incident on a case by case basis”
(i) Two new reports are available on the police website at www.police.govt.nz/resources. These are the final 2 months of monitoring (5th review) plus the summary report of all reviews over the last two years.
(ii) The 1063 child assault events identified in this review period are not the total number of child assault events attended nationally by police during this time. These are events which, according to 7 offence codes, were most likely to identify incidents which might involve ‘smacking’. This is because ‘smacking’ in itself is not an offence.
The Police Family Violence Governance Group and the Ministry of Social Development agreed to examine the following seven offence types:
- Assault Child (Manually)
- Assault Child (Other Weapon)
- Common Assault (Domestic)(Manually) Common Assault (Manually)
- Other Assault on Child (Under 14 Years)
- Common Assault Domestic (Other Weapon)
- Other Common Assault
And based on this examination the events were allocated to one of each of the following categories: ‘smacking’, ‘minor acts of physical discipline’ and ‘other child assault’. The rationale used to allocate each event to a specific category involved consideration of the:
- actual physical action used in the child assault; and
- the context and the surrounding circumstances, as outlined in the Commissioners Circular.
(iv) The Commissioner’s Circular on this issue released in June 2007 can be found on the NZ Police website