We are about to have a proper gang control policy contest. It’s about time.
The international press have been tracking our growth in gang crime since at least early 2020.
It seems as if no matter the extra effort this government is putting in, the problem is accelerating faster.
Since 2017, 49 new Police officers have joined up compared to 107 new patched gang members, across Auckland.
In the Waikato, 95 new Police officers are on the beat compared to 259 new gang members.
It’s true in Wellington as well. Nationwide, broadly, the number of new gang members is outpacing new Police two to one.
Nice cute statistic that illustrates both that Labour have done what they said on the tin and recruited a lot more Police.
This government has graduated 3,000 new Police since 2017, and is on track to reach a net gain of 1,800 Police office on the beat by June 2023.
But also that Prime Minister Ardern has been powerless to stop Australia sending several thousands of criminals here under the “501” repatriation policy. They are after all our people, with our citizenship, and as citizens we are duty bound to receive them back into society.
In other cute statistics, over 100 people have been shot dead by firearms over four years. But 51 of those were in the Christchurch massacre.
It is pretty hard to claim that this Labour government hasn’t done anything to control firearms.
In the first buyback in 2020, more than 60,000 firearms and more than 200,000 firearms parts were surrendered. In the 2021 buyback after the second more narrow firearm focus, a further 1,000 firearms were handed in and 240 pistol carbine conversion kits with 2,400 accessories were given in.
The arms register will be in place from June next year and fully in place by 2028, further choking firearm access on the ordinary market.
So if it ain’t firearms access and law, and it ain’t lack of new Police, why do we still have a rising gang war?
The answer National wants to give was released recently in a hard-hitting speech by National’s leader.
The main policy points from National are:
You can look up Luxon’s regional Party speech if you really want to, but that’s the policy points. His focus is on supporting the Police with powers more than it is addressing how to break up gangs and find their members useful things to do in society.
Everyone knows that removing a gang insignia isn’t going to reverse gang crime in this country. There’s some inconvenient truths since the last time National was going to solve the gang problem with its 2014 gang programme in 2014 under Minister Tolley.
Ardern’s team now get to respond. Politics regrettably is having to deal with one damn thing after another, not in the order of when you wanted to deal with it. It would have been good to just traipse through the remainder of the year completing 3 Waters and the RMA – luck is running out for Ardern.
There’s no doubt it’s going nuts in Auckland, with 23 driveby shootings targeting specific houses and people recently. In the West we’ve had over a dozen shooting deaths in under a year. Apparently it’s a vortex of revenge between two gangs, according to Auckland Police.
The cops have been on to the issue of gang violence for some time, and successfully jailing many.
Dr Jarrod Gilbert sets out their growth and broad taxonomy here.
But Prime Minister Ardern didn’t get anything specific out of Albanese on the 501 issue this weekend. The reset was enough before they had to get straight into Pacific politics at the Forum coming up.
Ardern and her hapless Minister of Police will need policy responses now, not just operational Police responses.
I suspect just as they did with the vaccination progamme, Ardern will need multiple Ministers and Ministries to engage with gangs face to face with practical stuff, in order to unpack gang related crime. Simply dismissing this scale of crime growth with “well this is just another post-pandemic truth revealed” is hardly going to give confidence for people to move back to their neighbourhoods. Ardern will need to reveal a plan bolder and more encompassing than National’s platitudinous and narrow approach, or else National will continue eating her lunch.
It’s not like Ardern doesn’t have the largest Maori caucus ever assembled to actually engage across the whole of crime, welfare, and social development. It’s going to have to be real, broad, and convincingly more effective than what National has put up.
Ball is in their court now.