I see ACT has proposed "zero tolerance for crime" and will ensure "[t]he law ... be enforced at all levels and penalties awarded enforced".
Calls for "zero tolerance" demonstrate a profound lack of understanding about how our laws are structured and work. Our laws are drafted on the basis that public actors will apply discretion about when they are enforced, ie our laws contemplate prosecutorial discretion. We can always seek to improve the application of that discretion, but there's no doubt that its existence is essential.
To illustrate with a simple example that most people will be able to personally relate to.
The Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 contains the following rules:
rule 3.1 General requirements about places controlled by traffic control devices
(1) Subject to subclauses (2) and (3), if traffic at any place is controlled by a traffic control device, a person (including a pedestrian) using the road at that place must comply with the instructions given by that traffic control device that apply to them. ...
rule 3.5 Traffic signals in form of standing or walking human figure
(1) While a special signal for pedestrians indicates a flashing or steady red standing human figure symbol, pedestrians, riders of mobility devices, and riders of wheeled recreational devices who are using the footpath and facing the signal must not enter the roadway.
(2) While a special signal for pedestrians indicates a green walking human figure symbol, pedestrians, riders of mobility devices, and riders of wheeled recreational devices may,—
(a) if facing the signal, enter the roadway to cross towards the signal; and
(b) if a “Pedestrians May Cross Diagonally During Cross” sign is installed, enter the roadway to cross towards the signal or to the diagonally opposite corner of the controlled area.
The Rule also contains the following rules:
rule 11.3 Using crossings, underpasses, or footbridges (1) A pedestrian or rider of a mobility device must not cross a roadway otherwise than on a pedestrian crossing or at a school crossing point, at an underpass, or on a footbridge when a pedestrian crossing or school crossing point, an underpass, or a footbridge is reasonably available to the pedestrian for that purpose within a distance of 20 m. (2) If pedestrian traffic on any part of any roadway is controlled by traffic signals, a pedestrian must not cross any other part of that roadway that is within 20 m of the part controlled by traffic signals. (3) This clause is subject to clause 11.4. rule 11.4 Crossing roadway (1) A pedestrian or rider of a mobility device or wheeled recreational device who crosses a roadway elsewhere than on a pedestrian crossing or at a school crossing point must, whenever possible, cross at right angles to the kerb or side of the roadway. (2) This clause does not apply at an intersection controlled by traffic signals if the pedestrian or rider is complying with a notice, sign, or marking maintained by the road controlling authority and indicating that such persons may or should cross otherwise than at right angles.
Section 10 of the Land Transport Act 1998 requires people to comply with the rules:
s 10 Road users and others to comply with ordinary rules and emergency rules A person must comply with the rules.
It is a criminal offence to contravene a rule:
s 40 Contravention of ordinary rules (1) A person commits an offence if the person contravenes a provision of an ordinary rule and the contravention of that provision is for the time being prescribed as an offence by regulations made under section 167. (2) If a person is convicted of an offence referred to in subsection (1), the person is liable to the applicable penalty set out in the regulations.
The maximum penalty for breaching the rules are set out in s 3 and Schedule 1 of the Land Transport (Offences and Penalties) Regulations 1999:
reg 3 Summary offences and penalties (1) A breach of a provision specified in the first column of Schedule 1 is an offence against the Act. (2) A person who commits an offence referred to in subclause (1) is liable on summary conviction,— (a) in the case of an individual,— (i) to a fine not exceeding the amount specified in relation to that offence in the third column of Schedule1; or (ii) to a fine of the amount determined by the relevant scale set out in Schedule 1A (as referenced in the third column of Schedule 1). Schedule 1 ... Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 Provision; Brief description; Maximum penalty on summary conviction for individual ($) 3.5(1); Pedestrian, rider of mobility device, or rider of wheeled recreational device enters roadway when red human figure displayed; $10 11.3; Pedestrian/rider of mobility device fails to use pedestrian crossing, etc, within 20m; $35 11.4(1); Pedestrian/rider of mobility device/wheeled recreational device fails to cross road at right angle to roadway; $35
The effect of "zero tolerance" in the enforcement of crime is: - any person who dashes across the road at the lights on the corner of Willis Street and Lambton Quay while the red man (human figure) is showing must prosecuted and fined up $10 each and every time they do so. - any person who jay-walks on an angle across Lambton Quay must prosecuted and fined to $35 each and every time they do so; - any person who dashes across Lambton Quay beside, but not at, the lights across the road from Astoria must prosecuted and fined to $35 each and every time they do so.