New figures on offending by New Zealanders deported from Australia are prompting Police Minister Stuart Nash to question whether all are receiving enough support.
A quarter of 1023 New Zealanders forced out of Australia since 2015 have gone on to rack up convictions on this side of the Tasman.
An Official Information Act response revealed that, of the 252 deportees convicted here, a quarter have ended up behind bars.
Nash said the numbers were “disappointing” and suggested not all were getting the help they needed to “become productive members of society”.
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“I note approximately three-quarters … have not been convicted of any crimes,” he said.
“I am interested in finding out more about what, if anything, is different about their individual reintegration and what we could be doing to better to support these people.”
The minister has confirmed he was “seeking information” from officials on the matter.
The figures were, however, far less than police predicted in briefing papers from last year.
Authorities were predicting recidivism rates to be as high as 55 per cent by early next year.
And it seems those who received help were at lower risk of reoffending.
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said 560 deportees received support as they were subject to “returning offenders orders”.
Typically, they had been deported within six months of release from prison and were greeted by a probation officer at the airport.
They were also given help from government agencies, and their rates of reoffending were significantly lower, at 13 per cent, compared with 25 per cent for the general deportee population.
“It is important that these people are supported to reintegrate, particularly since many of them have few support networks within New Zealand,” Davis said.
Among those who failed to adapt was Michael Heron. After serving a lengthy jail term for murdering a man in a Sydney bar fight in 1996, he was deported in 2014.
Unmonitored, Heron struggled to find his feet, developing a drinking problem and failing to hold down a job.
As his financial and drug debts mounted up, he started dealing drugs. The 45-year-old was jailed for seven years and 10 months in June.
In sentencing him, Judge Mackintosh recognised the challenges Heron faced.
“You had been in high-end custody in Australia, found that socially debilitating and really found life really difficult.
“You attempted rehabilitation, but your personal circumstance really became fraught,” the judge said.
In August last year, teenager Isaiah Peka, who moved to Australia when he was six, was deported after amassing more than 20 convictions.
After just three months, the 18-year-old stabbed a man six times with a butcher’s knife in response to what Peka considered to be a threat against him and his family.
He was jailed for three years in the Manukau District Court in May.
Of the 1069 convictions notched up by the 252 deportees who have offended since January 2015, 290 were for dishonesty and 262 were for traffic charges.
There were also 164 convictions for violence.
Police policy and partnerships director Jeremy Wood said 75 deportees were currently in prison or remanded in custody.