Under the Parole Act 2002, victims of crime have certain rights to give information to, and receive information from, the Board regarding the person who offended against them. There are two levels of entitlement to give and receive information.
All victims, as defined in the Victims' Rights Act, can:
- make written submissions to the Board about the person who offended against them;
- apply to the Board to make an oral submission about the person who offended against them;
- receive information regarding the Board's decision about an offender when the victim made a written or oral submission about that offender.
A definition of the term 'victim' as it applies in the Victims’ Rights Act is provided further down this page.
Victims of certain serious offences can apply under the Victims’ Rights Act 2002 to be registered to receive additional information. These victims are referred to by the Board as ‘registered’ victims. Registration is not automatic. If you have been the victim of a crime and would like to find out if you can register, you should contact the Police.
Registered victims have the following additional rights:
- To be automatically notified of upcoming hearings for the offender involved;
- To request specified (limited) information from the Department of Corrections about the offender to assist the victim in making a submission to the Board;
- To make oral submissions to the Board without having to request permission to do so. With the Board's permission, they can involve support people and may be represented by counsel;
- To be notified of the Board’s decision about an offender regardless of whether they made a submission about that offender.
The rights listed above relate to the New Zealand Parole Board. Registered victims are also entitled to receive information from other government agencies, such as the Department of Corrections.
Eligibility for registration
The Police can advise you if you are eligible for victim notification or you can ask your local office of Victim Support about it. The New Zealand Police is responsible for verifying eligibility and forwarding victims’ contact details to the appropriate agencies.
People eligible to be registered for automatic notification are those who have been the victim of:
- sexual violation or other serious assault, or
- an offence that resulted in serious injury to a person, in the death of a person, or in a person being incapable, or
- an offence of another kind and the victim has reasonable grounds to fear for the physical safety or security of him/her self or of members of his/her immediate family.
An eligible victim can appoint another person to receive on their behalf any notice that is to be given to the victim. This is referred to by the Board as an appointed representative. The representative is required to make all reasonable efforts to receive on the victim’s behalf, and ensure that the victim is given and understands, the information that has been received.
When an eligible victim applies to the Police, or at any point afterwards, they can give written notice about the details of their appointed representative. The notice must include the representative’s consent to the appointment.
A victim’s support person may appoint himself or herself, or another support person, as a representative in some (limited) cases where the victim may not be capable alone of appointing a representative. There is more information about this in section 42 of the Victims’ Rights Act.
A representative is not the same as a “support person” as defined in the Victims’ Rights Act, nor is it the same as a legal guardian. The representative has no other powers or obligations other than those specified in sections 40-45 of the Victims’ Rights Act.
Enquiries about appointing a representative for notice should be made to the Police.
No legal obligation for victims
Becoming involved in an offender’s case is the only way a victim can pass their concerns to the Board about an offender’s potential release. This can be done by making a written submission to the Board or by meeting with the members of the Board considering an offender’s case.
However, there is no legal obligation for victims to provide a written submission or to meet with the Board to make an oral submission. Registered victims will still be notified of hearing dates and hearing outcomes for the person that offended against them, regardless of whether they have made a submission to the Board.
The Parole Act 2002 states that “the paramount consideration for the Board in every case is the safety of the community.” This will be the Board's main concern in each case, whether or not victims have made submissions.
Legal definition of victim
The following extract is the definition of a victim from the Victims’ Rights Act (2002):
- a person against whom an offence is committed by another person; and
- a person who, through, or by means of, an offence committed by another person, suffers physical injury, or loss of, or damage to, property; and
- a parent or legal guardian of a child, or of a young person, who falls within subparagraph (i) or subparagraph (ii), unless that parent or guardian is charged with the commission of, or convicted or found guilty of, or pleads guilty to, the offence concerned; and
- a member of the immediate family of a person who, as a result of an offence committed by another person, dies or is incapable, unless that member is charged with the commission of, or convicted or found guilty of, or pleads guilty to, the offence concerned; and
- for the purposes only of sections 7 and 8, includes—
- a person who, through, or by means of, an offence committed by another person, suffers any form of emotional harm; and
- a parent or legal guardian of a child, or of a young person, who falls within subparagraph (i), unless that parent or guardian is charged with the commission of, or convicted or found guilty of, or pleads guilty to, the offence concerned; and
- despite paragraphs (a) and (b), if an offence is committed by a person, does not include another person charged (whether as a principal or party or accessory after the fact or otherwise) with the commission of, or convicted or found guilty of, or who pleads guilty to,—
- that offence; or
- an offence relating to the same incident or series of incidents as that crime or offence