Tuesday, April 23, 2024

ACT pledges $1.6 billion for law and order overhaul

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ACT Party leader David Seymour addressed voters in Pakuranga during the 2020 election campaign. Times file photo

The ACT Party will spend $1 billion to increase the number of prison beds as part of its crackdown on law and order if elected to Government at this year’s general election.

In an email sent to party supporters on May 8, leader David Seymour said crime has “exploded” under Labour since 2017.

He said there’s been a 120 per cent increase in serious assaults resulting in injury, with more than 13,000 such offences committed each year, while ram-raid burglaries are up 465 per cent over the last two years.

Seymour revealed ACT would invest $1b to build an additional 500 prison beds to ensure there’s enough capacity to imprison dangerous criminals.

His party would also invest $677 million to build 200 new youth justice beds and shift the management of youth offenders from Oranga Tamariki to the Department of Corrections.

The policies are part of ACT’s ‘Real Change’ alternative budget, being released on May 15.

Seymour told his party’s supporters that under Labour, violent crime is up and the number of prisoners is down, and ACT will reverse those trends.

“We will abolish Labour’s goal of reducing the number of prisoners, reinstate Three Strikes, introduce a Three Strikes regime for burglary, and review the use of electronic monitoring for violent offenders.

“We estimate these policies will increase the sentenced prisoner population back to its 2017 level and will require us to build another 500 prison beds by 2027.

“Imprisonment is not our first choice, but it’s better than lawlessness. Locking up criminals is about preventing more victims.”

On the issue of youth justice, Seymour said one of the most important lessons children learn is “actions have consequences”, but there are currently no consequences for youth offenders who “terrorise the public”.

“Oranga Tamariki isn’t equipped to protect the public from them.

“It can’t be nurturing young people if they’ve been put there for others’ safety instead of their own.

“The fundamental problem is there is no place to take bad kids.

“They’re too young for prison, they’re known to escape from youth justice facilities, or they’re sent home to their families where they have a lack of guidance and discipline.”

Seymour said no one wants to see young people incarcerated, but it’s better than doing nothing and setting them up for a life of crime, and it’s better than small business owners living in fear.

“ACT’s Real Change Budget will invest $677m over the next four years to hold young offenders accountable.

“This includes $500m on the construction of 200 new youth justice beds and $44m each year to operate them.”

Seymour says the beds will controlled by Corrections and will replace the 160 youth justice spaces provided by Oranga Tamariki (OT).

“As a result, OT will be able to redeploy these beds – suitably modified – and approximately $25m a year to young people in state care.

“ACT’s plan will mean real consequences for crime and real change for New Zealand.”

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