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Electronic monitoring legislation passes

21 September 2016

Parliament has given a third reading to legislation governing electronic monitoring of offenders.

The Electronic Monitoring of Offenders Legislation Bill was divided into three separate bills, each of which was then passed.

The Sentencing (Electronic Monitoring of Offenders) Amendment Bill amends the Sentencing Act 2002 and comes into force 3 months after the Royal assent.

The bill allows the courts to impose electronic monitoring as a special condition of release when sentencing an offender to a short term prison sentence of up to 24 months (through a new section 54I(3()f)). It also allows the courts to impose electronic monitoring when sentencing an offender to intensive supervision.

The conditions relating to electronic monitoring are covered by a new section 54IA.

The Corrections (Electronic Monitoring of Offenders) Amendment Bill amends the Corrections Act 2004 and will come into force 3 months after the Royal assent.

The bill clarifies the Department of Corrections' authority to electronically monitor prisoners permitted to go outside the wire. 

This covers those residing in external self-care units (covered by a new section 65A) and prisoners granted temporary release from custody (a new section 63(1A)) or temporary removal from prison (a new section 64(2)). The conditions relating to electronic monitoring for these prisoners are covered by a new section 64A.

The Parole (Electronic Monitoring of Offenders) Amendment Bill amends the Parole Act 2002. It will come into force 3 months after the Royal assent.

The bill amends sections 15 and 15A to enable electronic monitoring to be imposed as a special condition.

Government legislation objectives

Corrections Minister Judith Collins says electronic monitoring has been a proven and successful way of protecting the community, but the new legislation will allow better use of the law.

"It will widen the scope of electronic monitoring to some offenders who previously could not be supervised in this way," she says. 

"This means people who were not previously able to be electronically  monitored and were in the community without GPS monitoring will now be monitored. Corrections will know where they are, and the community will be safer."

Ms Collins says the bill is intended to target violent offenders and child sex offenders whose risk of re-offending is associated with certain geographical areas such as parks or schools.

"It will give the courts the option of imposing electronic monitoring as a condition when sentencing some higher risk offenders who may not get a long term prison sentence."

Legislative history

The Electronic Monitoring of Offenders Legislation Bill was introduced on 12 May 2015 and referred to the Law and Order Committee on 4 June 2015. Submissions closed on 30 July 2015 and the committee received eight submissions, including one from the New Zealand Law Society which believed the bill should not proceed because of its intrusion on fundamental rights.

The committee recommended passage of the bill in its report on 20 November 2015, noting that the Attorney-General had reported that the bill's interaction with the extended supervision order regime placed unjustifiable limitations on offenders' rights and protections under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. After consideration the committee said it believed that the limitations the bill placed on the rights of potentially dangerous offenders were justified when assessed against protecting the safety of the public

Last updated on the 16th September 2019