Armed Offenders Squad callouts are escalating at an alarming rate under the Labour Government as criminals and gang members believe they can operate with impunity, National’s Police spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“The Armed Offenders Squad was deployed 1,694 times in 2021. That is equivalent to five callouts daily and a 64 per cent increase compared to 2017.
“To the end of July this year, there have already been more than 1,000 callouts meaning 2022 is on track to be the busiest year yet.
“This specialist Police squad is tasked with responding to the most serious and violent armed offenders. The fact that it is called upon so frequently is a result of the violent crime wave and prevalence of guns that has been allowed to get out of control under this Labour Government.
“The comparison between 2017 and 2021 is confronting at a district level. The most significant increase is in the Southern District, where Armed Offender Squad deployments have more than tripled since 2017. This is followed closely by Counties Manukau, which has seen a 174 per cent increase, or nearly three times as many callouts.
“Police Minister Chris Hipkins has denied an increase in gun violence, despite frontline staff saying at times they are avoiding high-risk jobs because they feel unsafe and under-equipped.
“Chris Hipkins appears to have had the ‘out of touch with reality’ baton passed to him by the previous Police Minister Poto Williams, who denied there hadn’t been an increase in gang tensions for months.
“This Government has presided over an alarming escalation of crime in New Zealand over the last five years. To continue to deny it reinforces how soft on crime they are.”
Unlike Labour, National is backing our frontline Police officers and would give them four new tools to make their jobs easier. National would:
- Ban gang patches, which have been the recent fuel for the worst gun violence seen in New Zealand.
- Give police non-association powers to prevent gang members communicating and planning criminal activity.
- Allow police to issue dispersal notices where gang members come together in public to intimidate, threaten and sometimes assault members of the public.
- Give police the warrantless search powers they need to take the guns out of the hands of violent armed gang members.