Luxon: Ram-raids are out of control

David Fels Jeweller is among the local businesses that have been ram-raided in recent months. Times file photo Chris Harrowell
  • By Christopher Luxon, Leader of the Opposition and MP for Botany

We’ve seen a huge spike in ram-raids right across Auckland.

The ram-raid that occurred in the Ormiston Town Centre was one of the most brazen to date. It’s devastating for the store owners and staff and I’m worried that it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt.

Shop owners and front-line police officers are having to deal with the frustration of seeing an apparent lack of consequences for these violent youth offenders.

The youth justice system seems unable to respond with the growing number of them so police, shop keepers and the wider public are paying a high price by dealing with repeat offending.

As a result, our streets are becoming less safe. Police are under increasing pressure to deal with youth offenders who are responsible for a staggering 88 per cent of ram-raid incidents and contributing to a 31 per cent increase in retail crime.

Gang membership is up 44 per cent since Labour came into office. Violent crime is up 21 per cent.

New Zealand dairies, supermarkets and liquor stores have seen a 25.7 per cent increase in victimisations. Despite this, police are making fewer arrests.

There has been a massive reduction of 62.8 per cent in arrests for offences against dairies, supermarkets or liquor stores since 2017.

Worse still, the average police response time has more than doubled nationwide, with Auckland City waiting a staggering 321 per cent longer.

As a result of this Labour Government’s soft-on-crime approach, youth offenders, gang members and organised crime groups behave as if they can act with impunity. This has created a violent crime wave in New Zealand which puts our police and the community they protect in more danger.

The Government recently announced $562 million worth of funding for more frontline police. But more police numbers won’t mean tougher consequences.

National will send a clear message that we are tough on crime. We would have the police pursuit policy reviewed to check whether we have the right balance of public safety and consequences for fleeing drivers.

Right now, offenders have realised they can steal a car or flee the scene of a crime without the risk of being pursued or stopped by the police.

National would also provide more targeted support to young people and their families to give them more choice beyond the mainstream schooling system.

When National was last in Government, we set up charter schools which helped rehabilitate the most troubled young people, but unfortunately Labour cancelled all charter school contracts when they took office. When kids are at school, they’re less likely to get into trouble.

We would also focus more on social investment by identifying the children who are getting into trouble and working with them and their families to provide the targeted support they need to get onto a better path in life.

Our police are out there every day working incredibly hard to keep Kiwis safe but are not being backed by this soft-on-crime Labour Government. They’re working with one hand tied behind their backs.

Until Labour gets real about crime and starts sending the message from the top that gangs and the misery they peddle are not welcome in New Zealand, Kiwis shouldn’t expect much to change.