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Time For Change Is Now

Time For Change Is Now

ACT New Zealand Police Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today claimed that it is not only car crash victims who are subjected to inadequate policing, but car theft victims as well.

"Car theft is skyrocketing, especially in parts of Auckland, yet police are not receiving the manpower and resources to cope - there are situations where car thefts have doubled over a few months, with police helpless to cope. This is simply outrageous," Dr Newman said.

"Police Minister George Hawkins cancelled the police recruitment programme after becoming Minister. Labour slashed the police budget, from 1.9 percent to 1.7 percent. Thus, we have lack of manpower and under-resourcing. The Minister, and Labour, treats the core role of Government - maintaining law and order - with offhand disdain.

"Victims should not have to wait weeks and months for the return of their stolen cars, simply because there are insufficient police to investigate the crimes. The public should not have to fear serial car thieves - or pay through the nose as car insurance premiums rise.

"Some people have had two or three cars stolen in the past few months. Others were robbed at knifepoint. Police have been threatened. It is a nightmare, and the Minister is doing nothing.

"I challenge Mr Hawkins to take two steps immediately: firstly, he must instigate a recruitment drive of ex-police officers who have left the force, but would like to return. He must set up an amnesty, and establish a team of independent professionals - approved by the Commissioner - to assess each applicant's merits, and introduce a `refresher and fitness programme' to fast track these officers back into the force.

"Secondly, Mr Hawkins must wade into the Budget round, to secure a serious funding rise for police, and put the country's spending on law and order back on track.

"Crime is becoming more sophisticated. Without the resources to keep pace, police are losing the battle, and the criminals are winning. If we value a society where citizens can feel safe, then this is not a problem that can be ignored.

"Further, I challenge Justice Minister Phil Goff to look carefully at the law - car theft is punished by a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket. Instead, given the escalating scale of the crime, it should be a mandatory prison sentence. Similarly, any offender driving a stolen car, who does not stop when required to by police, but ends up in a car chase endangering the their passengers, police, innocent motorists and passers-by, should be imprisoned.

"Inadequate management of the police portfolio, and inadequate penalties for criminal behaviour, has left some areas on the verge of anarchy. New Zealanders have had enough. It is time for major change," Dr Newman said.

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