Federated Farmers Submission on the Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill
We are submitting in support of the proposed amendment to the Sentencing Act 2002 (the Act) to deter people from engaging in livestock rustling, by identifying it as an aggravating factor at sentencing.
Federated Farmers see this Bill as an important first step. We would like to see further steps considered by the Committee, including making theft of livestock a specific criminal offence. This would enable powers of seizure provisions similar to those in section 207 of the Fisheries Act 1996 and section 13 of the Wild Animal Control Act 1977 to be applied. Given the highly organised nature of livestock theft, seizing vehicles and other property used in rustling would provide both a firm deterrent for offending and help to inhibit reoffending by removal of the necessary equipment to undertake the crime.
The New Zealand farmed livestock industry is worth over $20 billion dollars annually. Livestock rustling (the theft of livestock) has become increasingly prevalent in rural areas, and is estimated to cost the farming community over $120 million each year. Livestock theft also creates serious risks for the health and safety of farmers and rural communities, as firearms and other weapons are often involved. A 2016 Federated Farmers membership survey indicated that approximately one in four members had suffered stock theft in the past five years. Farmers often feel that stock theft is difficult to address and that police and the courts have little power to discourage criminals who operate in the rural space.
Federated Farmers believes that the ability to take prosecutions that use livestock rustling as an aggravating factor at sentencing will both discourage thieves from targeting livestock and encourage farmers and authorities to seek prosecutions. Any additional deterrent in this space is considered overdue and would be welcomed by our members.
For more information, please see the full submission