The new Community Probation Service (CPS) centre at Flaxmere will allow greater oversight of offenders on parole or community sentences, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said.
Ms Collins opened the centre today, and said it would be an important step forward in the management of community offenders in Flaxmere.
The service centre will have a staff of 16, including nine probation officers. It will provide management of all community based sentences and orders such as home detention, community detention, parole, release conditions from prison, supervision, intensive supervision and community work.
“Before today, offenders living in Flaxmere had to travel to Hastings. It makes sense to have a centre where offenders actually live.
“This means offenders will be able to get to appointments more easily, and it will allow the Department to work with offenders more effectively.”
There has been a significant growth in community sentence volumes nationally over the last few years – largely as a result of the new community sentencing regime which was introduced in October 2007. The numbers of offenders on community sentences is forecast to continue increasing.
”We need to make sure that the Corrections Department is in the best possible position to manage these offenders appropriately and at the same time improve public safety,” Ms Collins said.
“That is why the Government has injected $256 million into CPS. This funding has been used to increase the number of probation officers across the country by 246.
“The increase in the number of frontline staff has already seen CPS improve the quality of its practice to record levels.”
Ms Collins acknowledged community groups, the Hastings District Council, Tukituki MP Craig Foss and others who had helped make the centre a reality.
“We have seen what can be achieved when there is a willingness to listen and to work together to find solutions that work for everybody.”