Secondhand Dealers and Pawnbrokers (Electronic Records) Amendment Bill

  • defeated on 04 August 2021

Secondhand Dealers and Pawnbrokers (Electronic Records) Amendment Bill

Member’s Bill

23—1

Explanatory note

General policy statement

The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Secondhand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Act 2004 (the principal Act) to enable the New Zealand Police to recover and trace stolen property, as well as apprehend offenders involved in this activity.

While the principal Act provides for Police to achieve this where property is suspected of having been stolen and traded to secondhand dealers (dealers) licensed under the principal Act, the legal requirements of the principal Act have not kept pace with changes in technology.

Most dealers appear to keep only handwritten records or print computer copies to comply with their obligation to provide copies to Police under the Act. Both of these methods make transfer and processing of data extremely difficult and resource intensive.1

Technological advances have enabled Police to read electronic computer records in an automated manner. However the group of dealers who supply Police with “machine-readable” formats is very small.

Counties Manukau Police have developed a computer program called Serial Number Automated Checker (SNAC), which is able to read and mass-process dealer records. It alerts Police when an item of stolen property or an illicit or repeat trader is detailed in the record. It effectively gives Police a list of potential suspects to better resolve property crime.

The SNAC program has already been directly responsible for resolving 99 burglaries and recovering 177 stolen items in the past 2 years. Currently, SNAC is limited to Counties Manukau with 24 dealers participating. There are over 400 secondhand or scrap metal dealers across Auckland, which provides huge opportunity to expand the success, resolutions, and savings of this local initiative.

A legislative amendment is required to ensure that all dealers keep and supply records in a “machine-readable” format. This would allow Police to receive the records by email, to process them electronically in an automated manner, and to compare the output data against records of known burglars and stolen property.

Clause by clause analysis

Clause 1 is the Title clause.

Clause 2 is the commencement clause. It provides that the Bill comes into force 3 months after the date on which this Bill receives the Royal assent.

Clause 3 provides that the Bill amends the Secondhand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Act 2004 (the principal Act).

Clause 4 amends section 4 to insert definitions of dealers record, Internet auction providers record, and pawnbrokers record.

Clause 5 amends section 42 to remove the requirement for the dealers record to show the signatures of various parties.

Clause 6 replaces section 45 to require that a licensed secondhand dealer must provide access (including an electronic copy) of his or her dealers record in a suitable form, which includes that they are electronically readable and usable by Police computers. The licensed dealer is subject to a fine not exceeding $10,000 if he or she fails without reasonable excuse to comply with this section.

Clause 7 amends section 47 to remove the reference to the purchaser’s signature being noted on the dealers record.

Clause 8 amends section 51 to remove the requirement for the pawnbrokers record to show the signatures of various parties.

Clause 9 replaces section 54 to require that a licensed pawnbroker must provide access (including an electronic copy) to his or her dealers record in a suitable form, which includes that they are electronically readable and usable by Police computers. The licensed pawnbroker is subject to a fine not exceeding $10,000 if he or she fails without reasonable excuse to comply with this section.

Clause 10 amends section 69 to require that a licensed Internet auction provider must provide access (including an electronic copy) of its record in a suitable form, which includes that they are electronically readable and usable by Police computers.

1 Conservatively, an average physical secondhand dealer check (coded 5V) will take a Police officer approximately 60 minutes. This comprises going to the dealer’s location, uplifting the records, copying the records and returning the records. This does not include the actual checking of the records, which could number in the tens to hundreds of documents depending on the dealer and frequency of Police checks.