Are our communities really safe, asks David Bennett
By: David Bennett, National MP
As Kiwis, we like to think that we live in one of the safest countries in the world.
Safe communities means keeping a strong hold on law and order. However, that strong hold is beginning to weaken. The Government’s soft on crime approach has led to 1400 more people joining gangs nationwide and a 44% increase in gang members in the Waikato since this Government took office.
The Government has stated that the increase in gang numbers has come from Australian deportees, however Police Minister Stuart Nash stated in Written Questions that only 22 deportees since November 2017 were gang affiliated. This clearly indicates that this is a domestic issue.
National stands with victims of gang crime. We want to ensure the safety of the community and effectively reduce crime. It is not fair that our communities should have to suffer the risks of having increased gang activities in their neighbourhoods. This Government’s approach to law and order is fuelling this activity.
‘Government’s soft on crime approach … makes it easier for criminals to get out of prison earlier & harder for them to get there in the first place’.
The Government is focused on reducing the prison population by 30% over 15 years. The only plan they have to achieve this political target is to soften our bail, parole and sentencing laws to make it easier for criminals to get out of prison earlier and harder for them to get there in the first place.
Our Corrections system is designed to ensure offenders are held responsible for their crimes and the harm they cause. It is also designed for rehabilitation. Earlier releases will mean offenders will not be equipped with the skills they need to be fully rehabilitated upon re-entry into society. These actions will only lead to increased re-offending rates.
Gangs are an instrumental part of the cycle of misery for many in our community. Harm caused by drugs, serious assault and organised crimes punishes vulnerable people. The Government stance on drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal one will only fuel gangs.
Locally, this Government promised to re-establish community police stations before the last election. The recent crime spike in Flagstaff/Rototuna sparked community action to re-open the Flagstaff Community Police Station.
Councillor James Casson has initiated a petition to Parliament which has been signed by hundreds of concerned local residents. I will be presenting this petition to Parliament to ensure that the Government is held to account for their pre-election promises.
The Government hasn’t reopened these stations as it’s an operational issue for Police to decide. The Government’s members shouldn’t have mislead the public thinking such reopening could occur. This is just another failure on this Government’s law and order agenda.
This Government’s approach of fielding off offenders into communities is going to create more problems. It will give gangs more power to create more harm in our society. Your public safety and rights should be at the heart of law & order policy, not a political crusade to reduce prison numbers.
David Bennett, National MP for Hamilton East
firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: 07 8343407
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