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National's law and order spokesman Simon Power says he is "terrified" at the prospect of nationalising a restorative justice programme that works in one community.
Mr Power, speaking at a forum on law and order in Oamaru yesterday, was responding to Waitaki Safer Community Council chairwoman Elizabeth McCone, who questioned his position on restorative justice.
While Mrs McCone said she was impressed with the party's policy, there was a "missing ingredient".
In Oamaru, there was a restorative justice system that worked.
Eighty-five percent of mostly young people that went through the community panel did not reoffend.
"I would like to see the National Party putting some positive policy in place so this process happens throughout New Zealand," Mrs McCone said.
Mr Power, who was a "big fan" of restorative justice, said programmes were usually "hugely dependent" on the unique skills of one or two in a community.
If an attempt was made to replicate that across New Zealand, often it did not work. If it was working well in Oamaru, he advised to keep doing it well and National would keep funding it.
Mr Power outlined the cost of crime to the economy - about $9.2 billion annually - and the "tools" National would provide to try and lower crime.
An announcement about work in prisons could be expected before the election, he said.
About 40 attended the forum.