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New Zealand First’s Law and Order Policy Launch

Thursday 18 August 2005

An address by Rt Hon Winston Peters

New Zealand First’s Law and Order Policy Launch

Masterton Town Hall, Chapel St, Masterton, 12:30pm

Providing Security In Your Home, On Your Streets And In Your Communities: New Zealand First’s Law And Order Policy

Last week you will recall there was a Dominion Post headline claiming “Untouchable Boy May Kill”.

It was a story about a 13-year-old Masterton boy who had a record of stealing cars, driving them so recklessly that police feared he would kill somebody.

The article claimed that “police say they are powerless to prosecute the boy because of his age”.

Well I am here to tell you today that all of that will change under New Zealand First.

Not only will we lower the age of criminal responsibility to 12, we will not leave our police powerless to stop criminal behaviour.

Law and Order is one of those issues which every party tries to bandwagon in election year.

The true test of a party’s commitment to this issue, however, is what they do between elections.

You see it is New Zealand First who for the past three years have led the charge in exposing Labour’s inadequate handling of law and order issues.

From the 111 debacle through to exposing chronic staff shortages; from the need for protective body armour through to exposing detectives sitting on the side of the road doing traffic duty – it has been New Zealand First not only leading the way, but more importantly providing the solutions.

You see we take law and order seriously, while others are “Claytons” parties on this issue.

In fact we were so successful that the current Minister of Police had to suffer the indignity of having the Prime Minister go on national television and tell the nation that he was being ‘bullied’ by New Zealand First and that is why he was struggling in the job.

So let’s look at what this Minister has actually delivered.

A 111 Crisis.

Chronic police staff shortages.

Gangs (and now it seems celebrities) winning the war on drugs.

Escalating gang violence.

Several categories of violent crime escalating.

Growing immigrant crime.

Violent sexual offenders being released into unsuspecting neighbourhoods.

That is just the tip of the iceberg and it is already quite a list.

In fact the only thing this Minister has delivered more of is revenue from traffic tickets.

And National is no better.

Remember it was National that was poised in 1999 to slash police numbers by 500, reversing the gains New Zealand First had made in the previous two years.

Some may ask why New Zealand First exposes these scandals.

Well the answer is simple – if we did not, there would be no change.

Sadly, this government will only act if it is shamed into it.

It is interesting to see that two of Labour’s pledges this election, Treaty deadlines and more police, were straight from our promises last election.

But Labour are the masters of placing a short term band aid over a festering sore – hoping it will last just long enough for the public not to notice.

So whilst 250 extra community police might be a starting point in resolving police staff shortages –it is certainly way short of what we can and must do.

Community police are only part of a wider matrix of police duties that have been short changed over the past five years.

Their role is valuable – but is no silver bullet.

There are fundamentally four aspects of law and order which must be redressed in order to restore public confidence in the police.

The police force requires restructuring.

We require substantially more police.

We must reconnect police with their communities.

And we must ensure that it is criminals – not victims that have most to fear from our justice system – from youth offenders to white collar criminals.

Having traffic officers as part of the police force is a failed experiment.

Both groups have vital roles to play in our communities – but they are distinctive and separate roles.

For too long our detectives have been doing traffic duty instead of solving crime.

We say it is time that some clarity was brought to these roles.

For this to occur New Zealand First will de-merge traffic officers from the police.

They will form a separate entity, and will have clarity of purpose – to bring down the road toll.

It will also allow the police to focus on their primary role – reducing and solving crime.

This is a win/win situation for both the traffic officers and the police.

But we need to do more.

We need more feet on the beat – many more.

Currently there are around 7300 sworn police.

Some 1500 of these are dedicated traffic officers.

Of the remainder – between 8 to 15 percent of their time is related to traffic duty.

The de-merger will ensure that rather than having police recording so-called SAP (Safety Administrative Programmes) hours or traffic duty, which in many cases they are not doing, there will actually be real traffic officers doing the real job.

This leaves us with just over 5000 full time equivalent officers once the full component of traffic officers is de-merged.

That is simply not enough.

We will change that.

We will ensure that an extra 1000 officers a year, for the next five years, are added to the police force.

By doubling the number of sworn officers, we can start fighting crime with the aim of winning the battle.
We will take the fight to the gangs, the drug dealers, the rapists, the burglars, the petty thieves, and the vandals.

We will put police back on street corners. You will be able to actually see a police officer.

When you call 111 the police will respond, not with a taxi but with a will!

Policing will go back to basics.

This increase in resourcing will come at a cost.

But it is a simple fact that throughout the western world when the police to population ratio has increased, crime has fallen.
On an international comparison of our police numbers with western nations such as the USA, UK and Australia, we are severely under-policed.
We have far fewer police than other countries.
We say with growing crime we cannot afford not to meet this cost.

And apart from avoiding the costs of our young people entering a life of crime, there are huge economic and social benefits in such a move.

Reduced property losses.

Reduced insurance premiums and payouts.

Security for our citizens in their homes and on our streets.

We must also acknowledge that the nature of crime has changed.

From burgeoning white collar crime through to sophisticated drug rings, police are facing an evolving criminal scene which requires a broader range of skills and tools to get the job done.

Let’s face it – so far the police have been out smarted and outgunned because this Labour government has held them back.

We know it is not their choice – but an enforced one from a soft on crime government.

We say it is about time the police started winning this war and we intend to give them the tools to do it.

This will include better resourcing such as DNA testing and drug testing.

Our laboratories must be equipped to handle the increased demand for their services.

Police must have access to the latest technology – after all that is what the criminals are using.

Even simple changes such as ensuring that the police have the latest protective body armour will make a significant difference.

Police must also be equipped to deal with the very real threat posed by burgeoning immigrant crime.

Now we were amazed this week when the Commissioner of Police Rob Robinson came out publicly and acknowledged that there were indeed those in New Zealand with anti-West terrorist sympathies.

You see every liberal and their friends claimed we had no proof – and yet barely one of them reported the Police Commissioner’s comments – barely one.

The police must be empowered to act on these matters – and we intend to ensure that they are able to.

We will reconnect police with their communities and make policing a desired career choice.

For too long now this government has allowed a negative perception of the police to fester – without taking any concrete steps to rectify it.

This is not good enough.

It is true that the police have some among their number who have let the force down with their conduct – but they are a tiny minority.

The vast majority of police are dedicated pillars of our communities and absolutely essential to our wellbeing.

But they have been let down by this government.

And to provide them with the numbers and the resources to turn their attention to New Zealand’s most flourishing apprenticeship scheme.

Young people being recruited into gangs and serving their apprenticeships selling drugs to their schoolmates.

Youngsters being used to commit burglaries because they can easily gain access through small openings, and because they will be hit with the full might of a family group conference if they are caught.

Youths racing their cars and going out and killing each other.

New Zealand First will focus on entry level crime to put a stop to young people entering a life of crime. We will:

- mount a war on youth recidivist offending, and aggressively target “entry level” crime by those seeking to enter the crime industry;
- aggressively target “P” and other dangerous drugs through co-ordinated education and police programmes aimed at reducing both access to and the appeal of these types of drugs;
- oppose all efforts to legalise cannabis and any other form of illicit drugs;
- raise the drinking age; and
- provide military-type discipline training for those at risk.

Young people (and their parents) will be made more accountable to the community for their crimes.

Young offenders 12 years of age and over will be dealt with by the District and High Courts as opposed to Youth courts.

While Family Group Conferences will be retained for those who choose to offend under the age of 12 years, any such offender will be entitled to be dealt with under this provision only three times and should they choose to offend again they will be dealt with by the adult criminal courts.

We will require that the Youth Court be given guidelines as to when anonymity of proceedings should be removed to reinforce the offender’s accountability to the community.

And we will provide police with the powers and resources to address truant behaviour and prevent it from escalating into habitual truancy, which itself almost guarantees the truant’s involvement in the youth justice system and a graduation into serious crime.

Whilst maintaining a system that positively invites criminal activity Labour has also fostered a system which has perversely seen victims punished – not criminals.

In fact Labour has now ensured that criminals are able to profit from their crimes if they are under stress, or their pillow is too hard or somebody offended them.

This is just plain nuts.

New Zealand First puts the right to freedom of the innocent before that of the convicted.

The right of freedom is absolute for all human beings.

It includes the right not to have others take that freedom away, especially by recidivist serious violent offenders such as rapists and child molesters.

The victims’, mainly innocent women and children, only misfortune is to be attacked by an insidious criminal.

New Zealand First will require the High Court to order all potential recidivist serious offenders on release from prison to be electronically tagged so they can be monitored for life.

The court will have full powers of control including releasing the monitoring order if the risk of recidivism is over.

We will review home detention and keep sexual predators out of unsuspecting neighbourhoods.

We will increase the use of mandatory minimum sentences for those that commit violent crime.

The loss of freedom for those who have been found to have violated the freedom of innocent citizens, is a price they will pay for the greater good.

There is only one party at this election which takes law and order seriously.

1. We are going to re-write the book on justice;

2. You won't have to ask New Zealand First who we support – the victim or the criminal – it will be patently obvious;

3. If you do the crime you won't be out in no time, or by lunch time;

4. The rights of criminals will not be ten times the rights of victims

5. Many victims of violent crime won't be voting on 17 September. They can't. They are no longer with us. But you are; and you can vote in their place.

There is a group in our community called The Sensible Sentencing Trust.

They fight for victims’ rights and New Zealand First has listened to them.

We support the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

We say it is time to take law and order seriously.

No more token gestures – no more half measures.

With a de-merger of traffic officers from the police, 1000 more police per year over the next five years, up to date technology and resources for the police force, reconnecting the police with the community and a regime that puts victims ahead of criminals we can make real change where it counts.

For those who want to feel safe again, New Zealand First is your only choice for change.


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