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Tuesday, December 8

Prime Minister welcomes S59 review report


Prime Minister John Key today welcomed the final report of a review into the policies and procedures used by the New Zealand Police and Child, Youth and Family around the issue of smacking.

The review was conducted by the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development Peter Hughes, the Commissioner of Police Howard Broad, and well known clinical psychologist Nigel Latta.

Releasing the final report today, Mr Key said the findings reinforced his view that the law is working as Parliament intended.

"Nigel Latta, as an independent reviewer, spoke to staff working on the frontline for the Police and CYF and was given full access to files," Mr Key says.

"He also personally examined several individual cases that have been highlighted in the media by advocates for a law change."

"Mr Latta has found that the Police and CYF responded appropriately and proportionately to the child safety concerns that were raised," Mr Key says.

The review finds that both the Police and CYF have effective guidelines for ensuring good parents are treated as Parliament intended, however more can be done to reassure parents they will not be criminalised or unduly investigated for a light smack.

It makes recommendations for new measures to reassure parents and Mr Key says the Government has accepted all of them.

The recommendations include:


* The establishment of a new parent support helpline within CYF so that parents who have questions or concerns about how they are being treated can be dealt with more quickly.

* The immediate publication of guidelines for social workers dealing with child abuse reports that involve smacking, and a subsequent briefing for all CYF social workers.

* A requirement for Police officers and social workers to provide families with specific information on what to expect, what their rights are and what they can do to question what is happening when they have to deal with Police or CYF.

* The collection of more specific information on the application of S59, so a clearer picture is available of how the law is operating in practice.


Mr Key says the recommendations are aimed at improving public information, achieving greater transparency and providing better support for parents.

"The Government does not want to see good parents criminalised for a light smack," Mr Key says.

"I can assure parents the National-led government will continue to monitor the way the law is being implemented."