Monday, December 11, 2023

Crime under the spotlight as election looms

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National Party police spokesman Mark Mitchell talked about the issue of law and order at a recent public meeting in Botany. Times photo Wayne Martin

Concerns over New Zealand’s growing lawlessness drew several hundred people to a public meeting to hear what the National Party would do to reduce crime if it wins this year’s general election.

Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown hosted the recent event at St Columba Church in Botany alongside National Party police spokesperson Mark Mitchell.

Brown said National will restore law and order “as part of our leader Christopher Luxon’s plan to get New Zealand back on track”.

“It starts with restoring law and order and making sure we have a plan to ensure you are safe in your home, in your street, and in your business.”

Mitchell, a former police officer and dog handler, said public safety across the country has “gone backward rapidly in the last six years”.

“I have seen lawlessness, I’ve seen gang members who feel like they can come out on our streets and take them over and intimidate and abuse law-abiding members of our society.

“I’ve seen a huge spike and an over 500 per cent increase in youth and juvenile offending, from ram-raids through to serious aggravated robberies.

“I’ve seen a 70 per cent increase in gang members in this country.”

Mitchell described the Mongrel Mob’s takeover of Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty in June as a “debacle”.

“They had to close the schools because it was almost physically impossible for parents to get to them.

“Do you think parents want to drop their children off when you’ve got 300 patched gang members milling around outside, doing burnouts, drinking, the profanity, and the intimidation?

“That’s not the New Zealand I grew up in. We shouldn’t be accepting that.”

Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown, left, with National Party police spokesperson Mark Mitchell. Times photo Wayne Martin

He said strict supervision orders and electronic monitoring should be used for youth and juvenile offending.

“So we actually know where they are, because a 10-year-old isn’t just a risk to the community, they’re a risk to themselves.

“We said we would fund community organisations and make sure they’re properly supported, to wrap the support around these young people, but they have to demonstrate they can deliver results.”

Mitchell said National would introduce military academies for offenders aged 15 to 17 years old.

“We made this announcement because I believe this is the most effective way of removing those 15 to 17 year olds out of the community where they’re doing harm.

“At the same time, we invest in them, and we put them in an environment where it’s Defence-led, [with] police mentors, Ministry of Social Development, partnering with community organisations and the private sector to deliver job fairs.

“You put them in an environment with the best mentors and role models we have as a country and we invest in them and we try and get them back on the right track.”

If that isn’t done, they’ll end up in the adult justice system and it’s then “much harder to turn them around, much harder to rehabilitate”.

Mitchell also talked about how National would crack down on offending by gang members, empower police to seize illegal firearms and address the ability of judges to excessively reduce prison sentences.

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