9 Nov 2012

New protection order for victims of serious crime

10:22 pm on 9 November 2012

Campaigners against domestic abuse have welcomed a proposed new protection order for victims of serious violent or sexual crimes.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says legislation she is introducing to amend the Harassment Act will close loopholes in the law and allow victims to seek a court order stopping offenders from living or working nearby.

Ms Collins sought legal advice after convicted rapist Craig Crofts moved into an Invercargill house in 2011 next door to a woman he had admitted raping.

Women's Refuge chief executive Heather Henare welcomes any legislation that increases the safety of women, while Louise Nicholas, who works with survivors of rape and sexual abuse, says the new order would allow victims to heal more quickly and help prevent intimidation.

But a barrister specialising in criminal defence, Paul Keegan, says it's a populist move and questions the scope of the order.

"It's not so much closing a loophole but potentially opening up a very, very large new area of government control over the lives of ex-prisoners."

The legislation will be introduced to Parliament early next year.