The Government continues to have its head in the sand over the rising prison population and its refusal to admit a new prison is urgently needed is putting public safety at risk, National’s Corrections spokesperson Simon O’Connor says.
“With only 300 prison beds left and the Government no closer to making a decision on whether to continue the previous Government’s plan to build a new prison at Waikeria, New Zealanders have a right to be concerned for their safety.
“There is no denying the prison population is rising fast and these criminals have to be put somewhere. The Police Commissioner today revealed that capacity is so tight that remanded and sentenced criminals are having to be held in police cells.
“But Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis continues to put his own ideology ahead of public safety. He appears to be ignoring his own officials’ forecasts which show the urgent need for a new prison.
“At the same time, the Government has promised to increase the number of cops by 1800 which is going to mean more arrests and more people in prison.
“We know that the prison population can rise by 300 in just a matter of weeks, so what’s going to happen when we reach full capacity? Are criminals going to be let loose on our communities? Are violent criminals going to be crammed on top of each other in prison cells?
“We all know Labour prefers to be soft on crime but quite simply, the Government is going to find that it has no choice but to commit to the Waikeria prison build. The sooner it gets on with it, the better.”
The Government’s thoroughly contradictory approach to law and order will put the public at greater risk and ensure more criminals go unpunished, National Party Corrections spokesperson Simon O’Connor says.
“What we have is the Corrections Minister saying he wants to axe the planned build of a new and needed prison at the same time as a second Minister is claiming he will be tough on crime and a third wants to put more Police on the streets,” Mr O’Connor says.
“More Police and tougher sentences means more arrests and more prisoners but Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis is telling us we’ll have fewer places to put them.
“It simply doesn’t add up and the result will mean our communities will be less safe.
“While we must continue efforts to reduce crime and reoffending, there’s no escaping the fact that the number of prisoners is increasing.
“And we know that over 75 per cent of prisoners are locked up for serious, violent offences. The only way the Government will be able to axe the prison build is by letting prisoners loose or failing to catch and sentence them in the first place.
“Mr Davis needs to think very carefully about the potential consequences for the public before making any decisions, though sadly there does not yet appear to be any indication he is doing so.
“He needs to front up to New Zealanders and explain why he is willing to put their safety at risk.
A petition calling on the Auckland Council to upgrade Tamaki Drive has received almost one thousand signatures, and counting, says the MP for Tamaki Simon O’Connor.
Mr O’Connor launched the petition at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club before a full house of locals and various community leaders.
“I’ve been overwhelmed with support for this initiative. Already hundreds of signatures have been collected and more keep coming in each week.”
Locals are enthusiastically signing the petition online and returning signed flyers that were delivered to tens of thousands of homes throughout the electorate.
The Tamaki MP and St Heliers resident came up with the idea for a petition as a result of frequent feedback from constituents seeking improvements to be made to the 8.2km seaside road.
“I want the Council to see upgrading Tamaki Drive as a top priority. It has suffered years of neglect and no longer lives up to its potential. We need to improve traffic congestion and road safety, and make the road more user-friendly for pedestrians and cyclists.
“If, like me, you feel it is time to upgrade Tamaki Drive for all Aucklanders and visitors, then sign my petition today.”