Putting the Offence of Stalking into The Crimes Act

It was fantastic to be on the steps of Parliament last Wednesday 26 June as part of the team handing over the petition to put the offence of stalking into The Crimes Act. Presenting the petition to the Minister of Justice, Hon Paul Goldsmith, MPs, Hon Ginny Andersen, and Hon Marama Davidson was the latest stage of a campaign that has been underway for the past several years.

NCWNZ at stalking petition presentation June 2024

The campaign has been a combined effort of three key organisations, spearheaded by The Coalition for the Safety of Women and Children (The Coalition), and ably supported by NCWNZ, and the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges (NCIWR).

A little over two years ago, a connection was made between NCWNZ and the Auckland- based Coalition. Unbeknownst to each other the two organisations had work underway urging an update of New Zealand’s inadequate and out-of-date stalking laws. NCWNZ’s Safety, Health & Wellbeing Action Hub had drafted a paper on stalking and identified the need for the introduction of stalking-specfic legislation as a key workstream for the Hub. We learned that, having been disappointed by the absence of progress on the matter of updating stalking laws by then Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, the Coalition had approached the new Justice Minister of Justice, Kris Faafoi in November 2021.

Work with policy advisors at the Ministry of Justice followed in 2022, with a view to inform New Minister of Justice, Kiri Allan, on the issue of stalking and the urgent need for legislative reform. To this end a joint paper was prepared by The Coalition, NCWNZ, and NCIWR. We were delighted to learn that stalking was made a priority by the Minister, then soon after, disheartened when the Government’s focus changed and we were informed in March 2023 that stalking was no longer a priority for Minister Allan.

At this stage the idea of petition was put forward, and further meetings were held with related agencies, on related subject areas, including a discussion with Sheryl Hann, Chief Advisor, Family Violence and Sexual Violence, Te Puna Aonui. In April 2023 a letter was sent to then Minister of Police, Hon Ginny Andersen, pointing out the inadequacy of existing legislation to protect victims of stalking and urging the Minister’s support to put the offence of stalking in The Crimes Act, thereby furnishing the Police with appropriate means of enforcing violations of a stalking-specific law.

Many of you will be aware that earlier this year, an open letter calling for stalking to be put into The Crimes Act, signed by individuals and organisations concerned for the safety of women in Aotearoa New Zealand was sent to the Minister of Justice. The letter called on Paul Goldsmith to honour National’s pre-election stated support to make stalking illegal, and to act with urgency. The delivery of the open letter was followed by the launch of the petition – Safety Not Stalking, that eventually gained more than 20,000 signatures.

We were delighted in April to receive the announcement of Ginny Andersen’s Member’s Bill to update existing stalking laws, and noted Paul Goldsmith’s response that New Zealand’s stalking and harassment laws would be reviewed in due course. It was a very happy surprise then to hear The Minister of Justice announce on the day of the petition handover, that the Government intends introducing legislation to update stalking laws before the end of the year.

This was definitely a high point for the campaign, but it is not over yet. Work with Ministry of Justice officials will now take place, ensuring the new law works for victims. We will keep you posted with developments.


To read more articles from The Circular (May-June 2024) issue 647, click on the tag below.
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