Child harm prevention orders "off the table"
Tue 11 Mar 2014
Plans to introduce a new Child Harm Prevention Order as part of the Vulnerable Children's Bill have been taken "off the table" by the government. If ...
Plans to introduce a new Child Harm Prevention Order as part of the Vulnerable Children's Bill have been taken "off the table" by the government.
If implemented, High and District Court judges would have been able to impose restraining orders on people who had not been found guilty of an offence, keeping them away from children for up to 10 years. The order could be imposed if a person "has been convicted of, or found on the balance of probabilities to have committed, one or more of the qualifying offences against a child or children listed in the schedule".
However, a regulatory impact statement released by the Ministry of Justice has said "risk prediction is inherently uncertain, so that orders will inevitably be imposed on people who would not have subsequently acted on that risk in the absence of an order". Media reported that large parts of the report were withheld by the government.
Other comments on the Child Harm Protection Orders were made during oral submissions to select committee.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the Government believes child protection will be improved through the range of other measures being introduced through Children's Action Plan. She said "I’m satisfied that we can significantly strengthen protection of our children and young people from abuse without pursuing Child Harm Prevention orders at this stage [...] I am reserving the right to revisit the need for such orders in the future. They’re just off the table for now".
The government also said it is continuing to explore other measures to protect vulnerable children not covered by the Children's Action Plan, set out in a fact sheet.
The select committee reviewing the Vulnerable Children's Bill is due to report back to the Government on 31 March 2014.