The extra police promised by the Government will mean an additional 900 prison beds will be needed – yet it will announce tomorrow that it is downsizing the plans for Waikeria Prison, National’s Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“This makes no sense but that’s typical of the clumsy and incompetent Ardern-Peters Government, particularly when it comes to law and order policy.

“National had plans to build a new 1500-bed facility at Waikeria Prison to accommodate forecast growth in the prison population, partly because of the 880 extra sworn cops we were adding to the beat.

“More police will mean more arrests which will mean even more prison beds are needed, over and above what was already planned.

“But incredibly, not only is the Government not increasing prison beds as advised by officials in a leaked draft paper to Cabinet, it will tomorrow likely announce that it is doing the opposite and adding only 600 new prison beds at Waikeria.

“That means the Government will have to significantly weaken our bail, parole and sentencing laws – and effectively instruct police officers to catch and release.

“This will make our communities less safe, because we know that 98 per cent of people in prison are there for our most serious offences, in spite of the Prime Minister claiming otherwise.

“But those are the only options available to the Government to be able to counteract the increase in the number of offenders caught by police so that it doesn’t have to increase prison capacity and can reach its arbitrary target of cutting prisoner numbers by a third.

“This is ultimately at the expense of the safety of New Zealanders, and proves everything incoming Prime Minister Winston Peters has said about being tough on crime is a sham.”

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