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ACT's 5-Point Plan - Zero Tolerance For Crime

ACT's 5-Point Plan - Zero Tolerance For Crime

Monday 28 Jul 2003
Richard Prebble
Press Releases -- Crime & Justice -- Zero Tolerance for Crime

The ACT Party today is launching a campaign to reform the way New Zealand deals with crime. ACT Leader Richard Prebble said the approach adopted by the Labour Government is failing.

"Violent crime has increased 13.3 percent since Labour took office. Robbery is up 15.8 percent, grievous assaults are up 21 percent and sexual offences are up 16 percent," said Mr Prebble.

"To be fair, successive governments have failed. Violent crime increased under National by 3 percent.

"The maintenance of order and the rule of law are essential functions of government. Government, courts and parliament are failing.

"Obtaining value for money, accountability and efficiency are as important in law and order as they are in social welfare, health and education.

"Crime is increasing in New Zealand because our Government does not believe that policing, sentencing and jail, have any real impact on levels of crime. That is like the belief we used to have that the Reserve Bank's actions don't affect inflation.

"ACT's campaign is to show the public that active policing can lower crime; to demonstrate that prisons do work; to put the case for the value of having a low crime, law abiding society.

"Last week's visit to parliament by victims of crime was just a glimpse of the pain and the human cost of crime.

"The last credible research on the cost of crime by the Institute of Economic Research put it at 5 percent of GDP - that's $6 billion or $1500 per person. No-one can calculate a figure for the pain suffered by victims or one of the worst effects of crime - fear. There are thousands of New Zealanders who are afraid to venture out of their homes at night.

"But ACT is saying we have a vision of a low crime society. Just imagine how such a society would improve your quality of life and the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.

"Our message is that it is achievable. Crime is getting worse and the situation is more serous than the official statistics reveal:

§ There is an under reporting of crime. § There is rising street crime. § There is an epidemic of crime relating to the drug P. § New Zealand is more crime riddled than other countries.

"While the Labour Government refuses to take part in the international comparison surveys so crime figures can be transparent, there is no doubt that New Zealand's crime rate is worse than that of any state in Australia and most nations in the OECD. Once New Zealand had very low levels of crime - in the 1950s. And New Zealand has a growing prison population. Only the USA in the OECD has more prisoners per capita than this country.

"ACT is promoting a totally different approach to tackling crime - a FIVE-POINT PLAN.

"First - active policing. The New York approach. In 1994 New York was in a crime wave of homicides, shootings and robberies. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani took action. He increased the police from 28,700 in 1993 to 40,000 by the year ended 2000. To give you an idea, New Zealand today has 7,300 police. Modelled on New York policing, this country would have 21,000 police.

"Mayor Giuliani appointed Commissioner Bratton who implemented Zero Tolerance policing or as it is sometimes called the "broken windows" approach. He implemented foot patrols and community policing. In New York, like New Zealand today, the police had concentrated on crime but forgotten about order. Police had ignored crimes like vandalism, disorderly behaviour and minor street crime.

"The results were spectacular. In 1991 there were 99,000 robberies in New York. In 2001 there were 28,000. If we duplicate the New York experience - robberies could fall from 1800 in 2002 to as low as 600.

In New Zealand we follow the British policing model.

There is evidence that the New York Zero Tolerance approach is exportable. In 1994 Ray Mallon was appointed Chief Constable for Hartlepool in Britain and applied a Zero Tolerance approach. Between 1994 and 1996 the theft of vehicles fell 56 percent, burglaries 31 percent. Mallon then moved to Middlesbrough and cut crime there by 20 percent in six months. New York, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough demonstrate effective policing cuts crime.

"Second - abolish parole. Parole is a failure. The Ministry of Justice reports that 49 percent of prisoners released after serving time for crimes of violence re-offend in a year. There are 1,400 violent offenders due for parole over the next three years - 1,102 will re-offend.

"Third - Mandatory supervision for all prisoners after release. This is not parole but tough `going straight' conditions - including a non-association order with gangs and a requirement to report regularly to the local police station. The police are better able to supervise repeat offenders than probation officers.

"Fourth - DNA profiling. All prisoners and repeat offenders should be subject to mandatory DNA sampling. It's just 5 percent of the community that do over 90 percent of violent crime. Police need to have a record of their DNA.

"Fifth - a sex offender register. ACT's Deborah Coddington has a private member's bill that will enable the community to know the location of convicted sex offenders.

"ACT's policies are based on two facts: Active policing reduces crime, and prisons do work. Advocates of a soft approach to crime, quote New Zealand's high rate of prison inmates and low prison numbers in European countries as evidence that prisons don't work. The statistic is misleading. A more revealing statistic is a country's imprisonment rate for every 1,000 crimes committed. In New Zealand there is only 14 people in prison for every 1,000 crimes committed.

"In contrast lower crime countries like Spain imprison 49 people for every 1,000 crimes, Ireland 37 people for every 1,000. Prisons do work.

"ACT's policies will cost more to start with. But nothing like the $6 billion that it's costing this country now. Even if we double the police and prison system - it's $1.2 billion.

"What is a low crime, safe environment worth? ACT believes it's a cost that most of us are willing to pay.

"ACT won't be putting up billboards but we do intend holding meetings on crime to explain our practical workable solutions. ACT intends using e-politics to contact thousands of householders and our party website to survey 30 percent of all households in New Zealand: city, town and countryside.

"It is my own view that the law and order issue is one of this Government's, most serious failures and the reason Labour will lose the next election - whenever it is held," Mr Prebble said.


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