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The Ardern-Peters Government needs to come clean about its secret plans to make it easier for criminals to get out of prison and harder for them to get there in the first place, Opposition Leader Simon Bridges says.

“New Zealanders have a right to be concerned about the Government’s plans to go soft on crime. It is keeping these plans secret because it knows New Zealanders won’t like it.

“And there’s good reason not to like it – it will mean more serious, violent criminals out on our streets, all so that the Government can reach its arbitrary target of reducing prison numbers by a third.

“The reality is it’s very hard to go to prison. No one is there for stealing a Moro bar or even for smoking a joint. A person has to have committed a very serious crime, like serious violence, sexual offending and Class A commercial drug dealing.

“These are the people that the Ardern-Peters Government will be letting loose on our communities if it goes ahead with softening our bail, parole and sentencing laws.

“At the same time, it wants to increase police numbers which usually means more criminals being caught and sent to prison. But the Government will be moving police towards what it calls a ‘compassionate’ approach – which basically means ‘catch and release’.

“There’s no point letting more police in through the front door if you’re just going to let more criminals out through the back door.

“To safely reduce prison numbers, you need a plan to reduce crime which this Government does not have. There was barely anything in the Budget for crime reduction initiatives, with the biggest new spend for justice going on the 2020 Election.

“It’s time the Government fronted up to New Zealanders about its plans and explained why it is willing to gamble public safety.”

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