The Government has announced a major package of law and order measures that further increases Police numbers, addresses gang violence and extends successful rehabilitation programmes that is intended to break the cycle of offending and entering a life of crime.
The joined-up package has been announced by Justice Minister Kris Faafoi, Police Minister Poto Williams and Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis.
“Our investment in law and order has made a difference. Since we took office, we have 1,411 more Police on the frontline - the highest number in our history, youth crime has decreased and there are 3,083 fewer people in our prisons. But there is more to do,” says Justice Minister Kris Faafoi.
“In recent years we have seen increases in gun crime, gang activity and even more recently some forms of youth offending that puts both our communities and our Police at risk and we must address that.
“Our response needs to address the root causes of crime, especially when it relates to young people, provide more rehabilitation to reduce reoffending, and actively pursue and prosecute those who participate in illegal gang activity,” says Faafoi.
“This Budget builds on our investment in record Police numbers, tackling gun crime and violent offenders and reducing reoffending, all of which help to keep New Zealand communities safe,” says Police Minister Poto Williams.
“The Government is investing over $562 million over four years into Police so they continue to have the resources they need to keep our communities safe. This is in addition to our already-record investment in Police."
Williams says their first priority is increasing the number of Police on the frontline.
"When we took office, turning around declining Police numbers was our number one priority," says Williams. "Once we achieve our goal of an extra 1800 Police officer later this year we will ensure numbers don’t fall away again by maintaining an ongoing ratio of one Police officer to every 480 New Zealanders.
“Under National we saw Police numbers fall away as new officers weren’t hired when Police retired. And when we came into office that ratio was standing at one Police officer for every 548 Kiwis.
“In this budget we are investing $94 million into tackling gangs and organised crime with strong enforcement being essential whilst at the same time working with communities to address the social factors that lead to people joining gangs in the first place," says Williams.
“This will have a strong focus on enforcing the law while also preventing the harms caused by gangs and organised crime.
“This approach is in addition to Operations Tauwhiro and Cobalt which work to break supply chains by seizing illicit assets and proceeds of crime and by disrupting firearms trafficking and violence."
Williams says they know Police are increasingly subject to gun violence.
"The package includes an extra $164.6 million operating and $20.7 million capital funding over four years to expand the highly successful Tactical Response Model which ensures Police are trained, equipped and supported to keep themselves and the communities they serve safer," says Williams.
“This includes funding for dog units so they have an AOS trained officer with them and more training venues where Police will receive improved tactical response skills.
“The Government is committed to tackling increasing gun violence. Key to that was banning semi-automatic weapons and passing legislation that ensures it’s a privilege not a right to own a gun and restrict access to those who use them safely.
“Funding of $208 million over four years will establish a new Firearms Business Unit within Police. The Unit will have oversight of implementing the significant and ongoing Arms Act legislative changes which overseas examples tell us are central to reducing gun crime over time,” says Williams.
Williams says they will be taking action to combat the recent rise in ram raids.
"Similar to the process that supported the installation of a thousand fog cannons in retail outlets, we will help high risk businesses protect themselves from ram raiders,” says Williams.
The Budget takes another significant step forward in the Government’s modern approach to rehabilitation as the best way to break cycles of violence and offending.
“Larger prison populations are not a sign of success, they are a mark of failure. The majority of offenders have previously been in jail so if we want less crime, we must have less reoffending,” says Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis.
“The prison population has been safely reduced in the past five years through a rehabilitation approach and that will continue through funding in the Budget for an additional 518 FTE Corrections roles over the next four years.
“We will deliver additional staff across the entire corrections network including the women’s prisons where the resources would help reduce reoffending amongst wāhine,' says Davis.
“With gang numbers continuing to rise in prison, extra staffing would also help address the challenges this posed for prison staff while also providing improved access to rehabilitation programmes.
“We are setting the foundation for change. It will take generations to break cycles of violence, but the evidence is the plan is working – we just need to keep going with what works,”says Davis.
“All New Zealanders have a right to a justice system that makes our communities safer, addresses the root causes of crime, empowers victims, reduces offending, and reduces the disproportionate impact of the system on Māori,” says Faafoi.
We are continuing to fund the existing Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Courts in Auckland, Waitakere and the Waikato. AODT Courts aim to break the cycle of offending, providing an alternative to imprisonment for people whose offending is being driven by alcohol and/or drug abuse.
“We are committed to doing things differently by ensuring those who commit serious and violent crime are held accountable, while also providing pathways out of crime for lower risk offenders,” says Faafoi.