Statement by Minister of National Security Michael Dunkley

Mr. Speaker, the Bill before this Honourable House is the Criminal Code Amendment (No2) Act 2014.

Honourable Members will recall that in its very first Throne Speech in February 2013, this Government promised to “make the breach of parole arrestable….”

Mr. Speaker, this Bill delivers on that promise and is yet another legislative means to assist law enforcement in disrupting the rhythm of anti-social and gang behaviour, and institutes a clear regime for the enforcement of parole conditions with consequences for breaches.

Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will be aware that an inmate released on parole ordinarily has conditions by which he or she must abide. A breach of those conditions, no matter how serious, is not itself cause to arrest that parolee. Presently, where a police officer witnesses a breach of the conditions of parole, but where no other offence is being committed, the Police cannot immediately arrest that individual. Parolees must be recalled by the Parole Board and can only be arrested if a warrant has been issued by a magistrate where they have failed to attend a breach hearing.

Mr. Speaker, in many jurisdictions, parole officers have the authority to arrest, with or without warrant, any person who is on parole for any violation or breach of the conditions of his parole. The Bill before this Honourable House proposes to allow the Police to carry out this function, in keeping with established practice in this jurisdiction.

Mr. Speaker, this Bill also makes, in my view, a useful addition to our body laws by codifying the conditions and special conditions of parole. Inmates, parolees and affected family will all have ready access to the conditions of parole and can see what kinds of things will form part of any Parole Order made by the Board. I would invite Honourable Members to take note of the provisions of the new section 70R in particular.

We know that the risk of re-offending is increased if parolees are exposed to the destructive elements that led to their original incarceration. The new section 70R makes it clear that the Parole Board can impose conditions aimed at keeping parolees away from people, groups and venues that are unsuitable and may adversely affect their rehabilitation.

Mr. Speaker, the principle of this Bill is not without precedent. Some Honourable Members will recall the Bail Act 2005 (section 10) which provides for arrest without warrant of a person who has been released on bail in criminal proceedings, where a police officer has reasonable grounds for believing that that person is not likely to surrender to custody or is likely to break, or has broken any of the conditions of his bail.

Mr. Speaker, the ability of officers to arrest a person on parole for a breach of the conditions of their release is tempered by the “reasonableness test”. That is to say, a police officer must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that the person has breached any of the conditions of his parole. Additionally,

Mr. Speaker, the parolee’s supervising officer must consider it to be in the public interest to recall the person. These and other safeguards in the Bill are designed to provide a balance between these new police powers and the rights of the individual. It must, however, be borne in mind that an inmate released on parole has not completed his sentence but is on license and the regime surrounding his conduct is deliberately strict.

Mr. Speaker, as I commend this Bill to the House for debate, I wish to thank the Parole Board under the chairmanship of the former Honourable Member Mr. Ashfield DeVent for their work and the even-handed manner in which they administer the parole of inmates.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

CLAUSE BY CLAUSE ANALYSIS OF THE BILL

 

CLAUSE 1 - This is the standard citation clause and cites the Bill as the Criminal Code Amendment (No.2) Act 2014

CLAUSE 2 - amends the principal Act to insert two new sections, section 70R and section70S. Section 70R provides for the codification of the conditions and special conditions for parole that a person released on licence is required to be subject to. Under subsection (2) of section 70R the Parole Board is empowered to specify special conditions that shall apply to a person released on licence that shall take into consideration the particular circumstances relating to that person. Section 70R further provides under subsection (3)that a person who fails to comply with a condition or special condition of parole may be recalled by the Parole Board under section 12(5) of the Prisons Act 1979 or may be arrested as provided in the new section 70S of the principal Act.

Section 70S provides to enable a police officer to arrest, without a warrant, a person released on licence who fails to comply with the conditions or special conditions of his parole. The section further provides that the arrest of a person for failing to comply with the conditions or special conditions of his parole shall be treated as a recall of that person to prison in terms of section 12(5) of the Prisons Act 1979 and the person recalled shall be entitled to appear before the Parole Board in terms of section 12(5A) of the Prisons Act 1979, before the Parole Board makes a final decision regarding his recall. Where a person released on licence is arrested under section 70S for committing an offence separate from his parole conditions, his arrest shall not be treated as a recall but shall be dealt with in accordance with the normal procedure for a person charged with an offence as set out in the Criminal Code 1907.