Thursday, April 18, 2024

Police Minister rejects claim Government is “soft on crime”

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Police Minister Poto Williams visited Counties Manukau East Police headquarters last week where she met with officers including senior sergeant Anson Lin, left, and area commander Inspector Scott Gemmell, centre. Times photo Chris Harrowell

Police Minister Poto Williams is defending the Labour Government’s response to an ongoing crime wave that’s seen local homes shot at in alleged gang-related firearms incidents as well as numerous east Auckland businesses ram-raided by young thieves.

In recent months there’s been several ram-raids carried out at the Ormiston Town Centre in Flat Bush and at jewellery and liquor stores in Howick.

There have also been gunshots fired at homes in Flat Bush and Mellons Bay as part of tensions believed to involve the Tribesmen and Killer Beez gangs.

Williams was in Flat Bush on June 3 to visit Counties Manukau East Police headquarters and meet with officers including area commander Inspector Scott Gemmell and senior sergeant Anson Lin.

Following the meeting she spoke about the steps the Labour Government is taking to address escalating crime across the country and in the local community.

She says she “absolutely refutes” claims by the Opposition that the Government is “soft on crime”.

“We’ve made record investment to make sure police have the tools, resources and people they need to do their work.

“Right now, there is a difficult and dynamic time happening in our country.

“We are supporting the police to do the work they need to do to get on top of not only the shootings in the gang environment but also what our retailers and business owners are seeing in terms of ram-raids.

“I know the work we are doing will be effective in that space and I have full confidence the police are working diligently to ensure our communities are safe.”

Williams says the Government committed $6 million in Budget 2020 to “deal with the issue of ram-raids”.

The money is being taken from the Proceeds of Crime Fund.

It’s to be invested in a crime-prevention programme to be managed by police and will include solutions such as installing bollards or other protection structures.

“A few years ago we supported the instalment of fog cannons [in certain dairies] to assist with burglaries,” Williams says.

“Now we know there are situations where people will use vehicles to force entry into buildings.

“Our support has moved into other preventative measures to keep people safe.”

Williams says the recent gang shootings have been “dreadful and distressing” for the community.

She says over the past 12 months police have run Operation Tauwhiro, which has “given them the opportunity to have a look at the landscape of New Zealand in terms of gangs and the harm they cause our communities”.

“What’s happening is a transition through to Operation Cobalt, which will be much more about enforcement and suppression.

“There will be a much more visible police presence and much more targeting of gangs.

“That is supported by the recent Budget announcement we’ve made of an extra $94m to support police to do their work.

“Their work is arduous and it is hard and they are working diligently to do this work.

“As with everything, they need to make sure they get this right, so behind the scenes they are working very hard to identify those people who have been involved in the recent shootings and make sure they bring them to justice.”

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