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The Prime Minister is misleading New Zealanders by falsely claiming prisons are full of low level offenders in order to try and justify the mess her Government is making on law and order and its refusal to build a new prison, Opposition Leader Simon Bridges says.

“The Government’s handling of proposed changes to our justice system has been nothing short of incompetent, as it tries to find an excuse not to build a new prison to lock away our most serious offenders.

“Things have gotten so desperate that to try and paper over her hapless Justice Minister’s broken promise to repeal Three Strikes, the Prime Minister is falsely claiming New Zealand’s prisons are full of low level offenders. That’s simply not true.

“The Government’s own figures show that 98 per cent of prisoners are locked up for Category 3 and Category 4 crimes. These are offences punishable by two years in prison or more. These include murder, manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault and sexual violence.

“These are not low level offences and the Prime Minister is wrong to say otherwise.

“It is also worth noting that people on remand or serving sentences in New Zealand prisons have an average of 46 convictions on their criminal record.

“The fact is only our most serious and repeat offenders are locked up and they must continue to be, and the only way that will happen is if the new prison is built.

“If the Government chooses not to, Mr Little has made clear that he will instead make it easier for criminals to get out of prison and harder for our police and courts to put them there in the first place.

“That is only going to make New Zealand communities less safe.

“We know the Government has made a decision on whether or not to build Waikeria Prison but the Prime Minister has said she won’t tell us yet. So what will it be, Prime Minister? Waikeria Prison, or making Kiwis less safe?”

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