National Party police spokesperson Mark Mitchell, right, was hosted during a visit to east Auckland earlier this year by Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown, left. Times file photo Wayne Martin

National Party police spokesperson Mark Mitchell says the Labour Government’s new programme to tackle retail crime “fails to address the core of the issue”.

“Criminals believe they can operate with impunity under this Government,” Mitchell says.

“Last Saturday the Prime Minister said her Government has continually asked what more they can do to restore law and order in New Zealand.

“This announcement makes it clear it is completely out of ideas.”

Mitchell’s comments follow the announcement by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on November 28 of a new anti-crime package.

It includes a fog cannon subsidy scheme that will see the Government provide $4000 for all small shops and dairies in New Zealand that want a fog cannon installed, with shops to pay the balance.

A $4 million fund will be created to support local councils in Auckland, Hamilton, and Bay of Plenty with crime-prevention measures.

An existing $6m retail crime-prevention fund will have its eligibility expanded to include aggravated robberies, including those committed during the past 12 months.

But that doesn’t go far enough, Mitchell says.

“So far this year there have been 517 ram-raids – equivalent to one every 15 hours.

“Gang membership is the highest it has ever been, and violent crime is up 21 per cent.

“Labour announced a $6 million Crime Prevention Fund in May, which just seven businesses have benefited from in the six months since that announcement was made.

“Not only is Labour completely unable to deliver on their announcements, but they aren’t addressing the crux of the issue.

“This Government is soft on crime, and offenders can operate with impunity.”

Ardern recently said while youth crime is now “much lower” than in the past, the risks and harm from ram-raids and other retail crime is concerning communities and creating victims.

“Shop owners and workers feel targeted. That’s unacceptable.

“Police are having a noticeable impact on offending rates, with ram raids during November down by 83 per cent compared with August – 13 so far this month against a high of 75 in August.

“But we need to lock that progress in and sustain it.”

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