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Labour in a muddle over organised crime

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

5 March 2008

Labour in a muddle over organised crime

Labour’s so-called strategy on organised crime is in a total muddle and New Zealanders are no safer today than they were four years ago when Labour first started talking about it, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

“Labour has promised all sorts of things to tackle organised crime but what’s happened? Nothing but talk. Here’s what they’ve said:

June 2004: A document entitled ‘Initial Scoping Paper on Organised Crime in New Zealand’ says: ‘The Crime Reduction Strategy Joint Ministers’ Group have agreed that a new Organised Crime Strategy [OCS] is a priority for 2004’. May 2007: In response to the drive-by shooting of toddler Jhia Te Tua, Helen Clark says Justice officials are working on an OCS, which had been due to be completed in about 10 months but might now be brought forward (NZ Herald, 8 May 2007). July 2007: Justice Minister Mark Burton says in a reply to a written question (9135) that the organised crime strategy ‘is proposed to be completed in the last quarter of 2007’. August 2007: Helen Clark says the strategy will be released in the ‘not too distant future’ (NZPA 6 August 2007). September 2007: Annette King says the strategy is due for completion in October.

“That’s a long list of dithering while organised crime marches on.

“Does Labour really expect anyone to believe it has the will to tackle organised crime, when Helen Clark finally said last year that ‘No one has been idle here ... people have been very proactive’ – three years after they said it was a priority. The work has not been done.

“Labour also announced the Organised Crime Agency on 11 September last year in a rush to take attention away from the Corrections Minister’s return from his controversial overseas rugby trip but look what’s happened.

“No one has any idea what form the OCA will take, and there is such uncertainty that in the ensuing five months, experienced staff have left the Serious Fraud Office.

“Labour has been fiddling around the edges while violent crime has increased by 32% since 1999.

“The truth is, they have an abysmal record when it comes to fighting crime:

The Crime Reduction Strategy Ministers’ Group didn’t meet for four years. The Youth Offending Ministers’ Group didn’t meet for three years. It took three years to establish a taskforce on sexual violence after being proposed in an ‘action plan’ from 2004. It took nine years to introduce community work for taggers after it was first promised in 1999, and 14 years for a victims’ charter that Helen Clark pledged in 1994.

“These delays in dealing to gangs and violent crime are further examples of Labour taking its foot off the crime-fighting pedal.”

ENDS

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