Our outgoing border control is not good enough

via Radiolive

via Radiolive

A review into Phil Smith’s case has unearthed a much deeper problem.

The revelation was made to the government’s independent inquiry which looked into how the convicted murderer and child sex offender managed to leave the country while on temporary release from Spring Hill prison in the Waikato.

The transcript of Detective Inspector Cahill’s evidence is one of 53 documents released to RNZ as part of a request under the Official Information Act.

Detective Inspector Cahill, who had run the drug squad for six years, said numerous people had escaped the country, despite alerts being placed against their names.

He said in the end it came down to the individual Customs officer.

That was backed up by a police report that was submitted to the inquiry.

Ashton Johnstone, a senior officer with Interpol, found there were half a dozen cases of people who had managed to leave the country but should not have been allowed. Some had formal border alerts registered against their names.

The inquiry report, released in October last year, found failings across multiple agencies that ultimately enabled Smith’s escape.

Among them, it said Corrections did not adequately assess or mitigate Smith’s risk before approving him for temporary release, and the systems in place to monitor offenders while at large were not adequate to prevent them from leaving the country.

It also said the Department of Internal Affairs had no idea Smith was a serving prisoner when they issued him with a passport under the name Traynor.

The inquiry made 39 recommendations to the government.

Last month, a bill to tighten up the systems across a number of agencies and enable better information sharing, in the aftermath of Smith’s escape, passed its first reading in parliament.

It will allow authorities to use a range of identity information, including biometrics like photos, fingerprints and facial recognition.

You’d think as an island nation we would have one of the easier jobs at controlling our border. ?But a wig and a different name is all it took for Bald Phil to bolt for Brazil.

An unofficial policy of letting all our criminals leave the country could actually be good, but we are the laughing stock, and somewhat of an ?irritant, to international law enforcement organisations.

Let’s hope the new bill manages to bring our laws up to date to the point where we can control our own border.