Tuesday, April 23, 2024

‘Crime must have real consequences’

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National Party police spokesperson Mark Mitchell spoke about law and order at a public meeting in Botany in August. Times file photo Wayne Martin

A National Government will introduce tougher penalties for crime and make the justice system put victims’ interests ahead of those of offenders, the party’s police and justice spokespeople say.

Law and order is shaping up to be a major issue at this year’s general election, scheduled for October 14, following large increases in offences including ram-raid and smash-and-grab burglaries and crimes involving violence.

Numerous east Auckland businesses have been targeted by thieves this year.

National Party police spokesperson Mark Mitchell joined Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown at a public meeting on law and order attended by several hundred people at St Columba Church in Botany in August.

Mitchell and National’s justice spokesperson, Paul Goldsmith, have today released their party’s law and order election platform.

“Data released over the weekend indicates that three-quarters of New Zealanders want stronger prison sentences for criminals and stricter penalties for young offenders,” Goldsmith says.

“Sentences should denounce the seriousness of the crime, recognise the harm victims suffer and deter others from offending.”

Goldsmith says for six years, the Labour Government’s “only goal” in the justice sector has been to reduce the prison population by 30 per cent, regardless of how much crime there is.

“Under Labour’s permissive approach, violent crime has increased 33 per cent, gang membership is up 70 per cent, retail crime has doubled, and there have been almost two ram-raids a day this year.

“Under National, gang members will find it harder to get home detention, instead of being imprisoned, because National will introduce new limits on sentence discounts, stop taxpayer funding for cultural reports, and will make gang membership an aggravating factor at sentencing.”

The law and order policy released today includes backing police with new tools to crack down on criminal gangs; delivering more police on the beat to target inner-city crime; ensuring criminals face real consequences through stronger sentences; dealing effectively with ram-raids with a new Young Serious Offenders (YSO) category and stronger consequences, like Young Offender Military Academies; and delivering faster justice for victims by speeding up the court system and better rehabilitation for offenders to reduce re-offending.

Mitchell says Kiwis “have every right to be concerned when they see gangs taking over public spaces, businesses fortifying themselves against crime, political party volunteers being intimidated on the campaign trail by gangs, and violent offenders receiving large sentence discounts and home detention”.

“Police need greater powers to disrupt gangs, serious offenders must face serious consequences, and young offenders need stronger interventions to turn around their lives.

“National is committed to restoring law and order, reducing criminal activity, supporting victims, and improving rehabilitation access. We don’t want more prisoners; we want less crime.

“Providing more deterrence and enforcement is part of that approach.”

Mitchell says to account for any potential increase in prisoner numbers in the short-term, National has included a tagged contingency for Corrections of $718 million over four years in our fiscal plan.

“This election, voters have a clear choice between a Labour-led coalition that will continue to jeopardise public safety with their soft on crime experiments, or a National-led Government that will restore law and order and put victims first.”

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