New Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says he has a plan to help dairy owners impacted by crimes such as ram-raid burglaries.
He addressed the issue at his post-Cabinet press conference at the Beehive on January 25.
Such offending has caused frustration and anger to multiple local businesses over the past year.
Among the east Auckland businesses targeted in ram-raids in the past 12 months are a BP fuel station, a jewellery store, a health foods store, the Ormiston Town Centre, dairies, a liquor store, and the Noel Leeming appliance store at Botany Town Centre, among others.
Ram-raids are particularly destructive to businesses due to the damage caused when offenders drive a vehicle, which has usually been stolen, into it to gain entry.
Data supplied to the National Party shows more than two ram-raids were committed across the country every day throughout August 2022, with 67 businesses targeted by such offending that month.
The highest number of ram-raids carried out in a single month last year was the 73 in March.
Hipkins was the Labour Government’s police minister before recently taking over from Jacinda Ardern as prime minister.
He was asked by the news media at his press conference on January 25 if he had a plan for dairy owners affected by daily crime, in particular ram-raids.
“Yes, absolutely,” he said.
“The former prime minister [Ardern] and I announced just late last year quite a significant amount of additional support for small-business owners, dairy owners in particular, who have been affected by things like ram-raids and aggravated robberies.
“That includes making fog cannons much more widely available.
“We have an uncapped fund available to subsidise fog cannons, to cover the vast bulk of the cost of those fog cannons.”
Hipkins says his Government’s Retail Crime Prevention Fund, which was established to support businesses that were the victims of ram-raids, has been extended to businesses targeted in aggravated robberies.
The Government is also putting funding into partnering with councils on initiatives that will help to keep such businesses safe, he says.
“We’re making sure we’re doing everything we can to identify who the young offenders are, hold them accountable for their actions, and stop that offending from continuing.”
Hipkins was also asked if his approach to tackling crimes such as ram-raids will require law changes.
He said there’s a lot it can do within the existing law.
“I don’t think the existing laws we have at the moment have necessarily been used to the full extent possible to make sure we’re getting these young kids out of trouble.
“This was work I was helping to lead before I became prime minister.
“I’ll continue to have an active interest in it because I think it is a very significant priority and you can be reassured I won’t be taking my eyes off that one.”
National Party police spokesperson Mark Mitchell previously told the Times he believes the Labour Government is “soft on crime” because its policies have resulted in the “levels of lawlessness we’re currently seeing”.
“The message from the Government to police is they want fewer people arrested and coming into the criminal justice system.”
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