The Government is struggling to control New Zealand’s growing gang problem, as the number of people joining gangs continues to climb rapidly, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“New figures released this morning show the number of patched and prospect gang members has increased by more than 31 per cent since October 2017.
“There are now almost 1700 more gang members spread throughout communities in New Zealand since Stuart Nash became Minister of Police, and their presence is being increasingly felt.
“That is two new gang members a day, and in just one month, between 1 December and 31 December last year, 90 people joined gangs.
“This is incredibly concerning and shows the Government’s soft-on-crime policies are not working. Labour, the Greens and NZ First have no plan to stop the gang-related violence happening in our communities every week.
“In fact, Stuart Nash today denied gang membership was increasing under his watch, despite these figures coming from his office.
“It’s not right that parents are starting to think twice about whether to let their children walk to school, and are becoming increasingly concerned about who their children are hanging out with.
“In contrast, National has a plan. Our tough on crime policies, like banning gang patches in public places and our taskforce modelled on ‘Strike Force Raptor’ that will harass and interrupt gang activity every single day, will crack down on gangs and the violence they peddle.
“New Zealanders deserve safety and security. They’re not getting that under this Government.”
Losing the right to vote is a consequence of serious offending and National will oppose any law that changes this, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“Labour, the Greens and NZ First have just introduced a Bill that will allow prisoners to vote. It’s clear they want to ram this through before the election.
“National strongly opposes allowing prisoners to vote. It’s difficult to be sentenced to prison and you have to have committed serious crimes to get there.
“Prisoners who have received sentences of up to three years aren’t petty criminals. They are people who have committed serious assaults, robberies, family violence and sexual offences.
“Losing the right to vote is consistent with the loss of other freedoms when going to prison. Once offenders come out of prison and have re-joined society then they will have the right to vote returned to them.
“It is apparent this soft on crime Government is putting offenders’ rights ahead of victims. Just yesterday a man was released from prison on bail because he was on a hunger strike. In another absurd move, Corrections has also taken to renaming prisoners ‘men in our care’ or ‘clients’.
“Going to prison is a punishment and should be treated as such.
“It’s becoming obvious at the election this year that there is a stark difference between a Labour, Greens, NZ First soft on crime Government that is clearly on the side of offenders, and a National Government that is tough on crime and puts victims at the heart of our justice system.”
Another gang shooting just days after a child was nearly shot by a gang member shows just how bad New Zealand’s gang problem is, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“Today a house in suburban Tauranga recently tenanted by a gang was shot at a number of times. Media reports it is gang related and stems from a serious assault that occurred in the weekend.
“How many gang related incidents is it going to take until the Government changes its weak on crime attitude and starts showing leadership?
“This is just another example of the violence surrounding gangs. There was a stabbing in The Strand in Tauranga recently as well, and today we had reports of children as young as five wearing gang patches.
“New Zealand needs a concrete plan to disrupt gangs. This Government has created a permissive environment due to it’s soft on crime policies.
“National’s policies would crack down on gangs. Our taskforce modelled on ‘Strike Force Raptor’ will be solely dedicated to harassing and interrupting gang activity every single day. We would ban gang insignia and patches in public places too.
“We’ve also tried to get the Government to pick up our Firearms Prohibition Orders which would give Police more powers to search and take firearms off gang members.
“This shooting happened in the community and it’s lucky no one was hurt. New Zealanders shouldn’t have to worry about violence occurring in their streets.
“National’s tough on crime policies alongside our social investment approach will see a Government led by us focusing on stopping gangs peddling misery in our communities.”
Heartbreaking tales of kids as young as five wearing gang patches shows the Government’s approach to gangs isn’t working, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“The previous National Government focused on stopping children from joining gangs in the first place by investing in families and young children, while also helping youth leave gangs and enter into productive work.
“We knew that if you invested early, and put the time and money in, then those children would go on to lead productive and happy lives. The current Government lacks this focus.
“This weak-on-crime Government has created a permissive environment that will see gang membership continue to rise, with members joining at younger and younger ages.
“I attended the Taradale public meeting on gangs and heard from a single mum with two boys who is worried they will end up in a gang. She’s asking for help now, which is why National’s Social Investment approach is needed.
“Children deserve a better future, not a life of crime.
“At the meeting the only power the Police had to remove patched gang members from intimidating the public was the Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises law, a law National passed and Labour voted against.
“If elected in 2020, National is proposing to go even further with a ban on gang patches and insignia in public places. The fewer opportunities for children to see patches and gangs in our communities the better.
“New Zealanders shouldn’t have to worry about their children joining gangs. The Government needs to step up and start taking leadership on this issue. National is very clear, we don’t want to see New Zealand become a country where primary school aged children are wearing gang patches.”
With regular reports of gang violence, drug crime and shootings, it’s no surprise the number of victims of serious assaults has increased, but an almost 40 per cent increase in the last year is staggering, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“In the twelve months ending November 2019 there was 17,930 victims of serious assault resulting in injury. Serious assault not resulting in injury is also up.
“It is unacceptable that there are more victims of crime, especially victims of serious assault, occurring under this Government. This Government’s soft on crime attitude has meant more violent criminals are out on our streets and in our communities, and that’s resulting in more victims.
“There has been almost 20,000 more New Zealanders become victims of crime than there was the previous year.
“The Government has taken its eye off reducing crime and is focusing on just getting numbers in prison down. Without having a plan to reduce crime in our communities first, this is only going to result in more victims.
“National is the party of law and order and will always put the safety of New Zealanders before the rights of dangerous criminals. New Zealanders deserve to feel safe in their communities. Under this Government they are not.”
Data found here
Another report of gang violence this morning is the sad reality of gang numbers increasing by 1400 under this Government, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“A child was almost run over by a fleeing vehicle after shots were fired in Ruatoria, residents have been told to stay in their houses in an incident some media have reported as a gang confrontation.
"With gunshots, violence and speeding vehicles it’s lucky nobody was hurt. Communities shouldn’t have to be worried about their children playing in the street or be forced to stay in their homes because of thugs.
“Since this Labour-led Government came into office, gang membership has increased by 26 per cent and their presence is being increasingly felt in communities across the country, with 1400 new patched gang members.
“The Police are doing all that they can with the resources they have but the Government has no plan for how to deal with gangs or stop them recruiting more members.
“National is the party of law and order. We have proposed a designated Police unit, similar to Strike Force Raptor in New South Wales which would harass and disrupt gangs and we’ll be releasing a comprehensive Gang Plan this year setting out how we will crack down on gangs under a National Government.
“Kiwis deserve safety and security. Gangs peddle misery and perpetrate violence in our communities, and there’s no clearer evidence of that than families being forced to hide in their homes and innocent children nearly being run down amidst gang violence.”
This Labour-led Government’s soft on crime approach has emboldened gangs and news of the Mongrel Mob intimidating holidaymakers at a popular campground in Kawerau is further proof that something needs to be done, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“It’s disgraceful that the Department of Conservation has had to shut down the campground because of the Mongrel Mob’s threatening tactics. Forcing out families who’ve been going camping there for decades is completely unacceptable.
“New Zealanders should be able to go camping and enjoy their summer break in peace, without having to worry about being harassed by gang members.
“But we know that, since this Labour-led Government came into office, gang membership has increased by 26 per cent and their presence is being increasingly felt in communities across the country, with 1400 new patched gang members.
“They’re now ruining the Kiwi summer holiday, but still this Government has no plan for how to deal with gangs or stop them recruiting more members.
“National is the party of law and order. We’ll be releasing a comprehensive Gang Plan this year setting out how we will crack down on gangs under a National Government.
“Kiwis deserve safety and security. Gangs peddle misery and perpetrate violence in our communities, and there’s no clearer evidence of that than a family holiday spot having to be shut down because of their shameful intimidation tactics.”
New Zealand should emulate our friends Britain and Australia by keeping troops on the ground in Iraq but with contingency plans to move them quickly if required, National’s Defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell and Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee say.
“We do not want to cut and run unduly, leaving others to shoulder our responsibilities,” Mr Mitchell says.
“We have a proud history of operating in the Middle East to keep the peace and it’s important that we are not distracted from our continued efforts to stabilise Iraq.
“We would expect the Iraqi government to take all steps necessary to control the security situation and ensure all coalition bases are protected from attack.
“There needs to be strong contingency plans in place to get our people out of the country if the Iraqi government loses control of the situation.”
Mr Brownlee said the Government briefed the Opposition on the situation in Iraq earlier this week.
“We share the Government’s concern over the recent escalation of hostilities. Now is the time for cool heads.
“We would urge all parties to move forward with meaningful dialogue rather than tit for tat retaliation.”
The gun buy-back scheme has been a failure and the blame for that is squarely on the Government, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“The gun buy-back amnesty closes today and the Government hasn’t even managed to buy back anywhere near the number of firearms it was aiming for.
“Advice from Police and independent experts KPMG pointed to the number of banned firearms in New Zealand as high as between 170,000-240,000 firearms. This matches commentary from firearm stakeholders as well.
“The only people who argue against this information are Government Ministers desperate to make their rushed job look like a success.
“As of today, Police estimate they have received over 50,000 firearms, but this is less than a third of what Police advised could be out there.
“I’d like to acknowledge the work of the Police. It’s clear why only a small number of firearms have been handed back and it’s on the Government that rushed the process, wasn’t clear on requirements, changed the prohibited list during the programme and failed to engage with the firearms community.
“The Government made a mistake in targeting law-abiding firearms owners when they should’ve targeted the gangs who peddle misery in communities across New Zealand.
“The result is a lot of confusion and lack of engagement. The buy-back has arguably been one of the Government’s most important policies. This is yet another failure to deliver.”
The Government has put the safety of New Zealanders at risk by forging ahead with a weak Terrorism Suppression Bill and voting down National’s proposed amendments, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“The safety of New Zealanders is paramount to National, and this Bill does not go far enough. The purpose of the sensible changes we put forward is to keep New Zealanders safe.
“Labour and New Zealand First have sold out to the Green Party. Justice Minister Andrew Little had the opportunity to work with the National Party in good faith to put forward a strong Bill, but instead he chose to placate the Green Party with weak provisions that do not provide optimal protection for New Zealanders’ safety.
“The current Bill completely fails at its first test of being able to detain someone at our border long enough until a control order has been issued by the High Court.
“If you’ve been in or around the business of terror you deserve to be monitored for the protection of everyone. There are no exceptions.
“National will not support a Bill where the Government, led by the Green Party, are trying to fool Kiwis into believing they will be protected. Under this Bill they will not.
“New Zealand should be sending a strong message that terrorism won’t be tolerated and that we will protect our communities at all costs. Instead what we’ve got is a weak Bill that will see the hand of our intelligence agencies weakened and will bog any proposed suppression orders down in the Courts.
“It was especially disappointing that despite the seriousness of the Bill no Government members bothered to speak about it in Parliament last night.
“In short the Government has put the safety of New Zealanders seriously at risk all because it refused to work constructively with the National Party. New Zealanders don’t deserve that.”