The Police decision to drop charges against Cornelius Arie Smith-Voorkamp is a welcome move, Green Party human rights spokesperson Keith Locke, said today.
Police today dropped all charges against Mr Smith-Voorkamp who was arrested soon after the February 22
earthquake and charged with burglary. Mr Smith-Voorkamp’s condition Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) meant he had a compulsion to take electrical fittings.
“It’s good the Police have dropped the charges against Smith-Voorkamp, although it shouldn’t have taken six months,” said Mr Locke.
“It was clear from early on that there was no criminal intent, and that Mr Smith-Voorkamp had an fixation with light fittings as a result of his condition.
“There needs to be a full review of how Police handle cases involving people with ASD from autism or Asperger’s syndrome.
“I am not satisfied with the assurance I had from Police Minister Judith Collins last month that where an arrested person displays such unusual behavior that ‘
Police make every effort to manage the person’s arrest and any subsequent charging process in an appropriate manner
“If the Police had acted in ‘an appropriate manner’ in the Smith-Voorkamp case, they would never have proceeded beyond arrest to a charge, and would not have asked the judge to remand Mr Smith-Voorkamp in custody.”
“This is a good opportunity to put in place improvements in the way Police deal with people with ASD,” said Mr Locke.