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Stronger rules around offender identities

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 24/08/2016

Comprehensive changes are being made to strengthen the way offenders are identified.

Justice Minister Amy Adams has brought a bill to parliament that's a response to the Phillip John Smith case.

Smith, a convicted murderer, fled New Zealand in 2014 using a passport issued in his real name after escaping while on a prison work release programme.

He was captured in Brazil and sent back to New Zealand.

Ms Adams said the case called for a step-change in the way offenders were identified and the sharing of information between agencies.

"The bill delivers on that step-change by moving away from name-based records held by individual agencies to a shared, anchor identity based on unalterable information, such as fingerprints and facial recognition," she said.

"It also gives agencies access to the drivers' licence photo database and birth, death and marriages information."

She says the government is acting to keep the public safe from some of the worst offenders by ensuring that high-risk individuals can't leave New Zealand without permission, or hide who they are through the use of multiple aliases.

"The public quite rightly expect the government to be able to share this sort of information to protect them from harm."

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