The civil war between the Killer Beez and the Tribesman have provided National with the chance of banging the law and order drum. And banging it they are.
This morning Christopher Luxon was reported by Radio New Zealand as follows:
A rivalry between the Tribesmen and Killer Beez gangs has spurred an increase in shootings, up to eight in a single night in Auckland. Luxon said New Zealanders were feeling unsafe.
“It’s another night, another shooting. There’s been 23 shootings in two weeks; violent crime is up 21 percent; gang members are up 40 percent. That’s the reality that New Zealanders are facing.”
He said police did not have the tools they needed to deal with the gangs.
“They want to do the job, they … have the capability to respond to crime, but they don’t have the tools.”
He called for the firearm prohibition orders that police wanted in 2017. The government has worked on introducing FPOs but they do not grant warrantless search powers.
“We’ve had two members bills that the government rejected around them, and they give police the powers to actually search our gang members and issue firearm prohibition orders and to seize those illegal guns,” Luxon said.
He said such a tool would allow police to search gang members and gang pads for illegal guns without a warrant.
He clearly has no idea what the current law says because the law already allows this. Section 18 of the Search and Surveillance Act 2012 allows for warrantless searches of individuals if a constable has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person is in possession or control of arms and is either in breach of the Arms Act 1983 or because of his physical or mental condition either is incapable of having proper control of the arms or may kill or cause bodily injury to any person. It is not clear if Luxon thinks the law should be even more permissive. Parliament could grant the Police the power to search anyone anywhere at any time but I am not sure this is the sort of country that most of us would then want to live in.
Luxon calling for Firearms Prohibition orders is something that the Government is addressing. The Firearms Prohibition Orders Legislation Bill is currently at Select Committee and was introduced earlier this year. Consultation on the Bill started in January 2020. Interestingly three National speakers talked during the Parliamentary debate about the need for warrantless search powers. I sense a pattern here.
To be frank the talk about expanding powers does not get us very far. The best response to crime is to have a sufficiently resourced police force. Labour’s significant increase in police numbers should be compared to National’s running down of the police numbers particularly compared to the population. At June 30 2017 there were 8,955 constabulary employees. By June 30, 2021 this number had increased to 10,219.
And the primary cause, Australia evicting all of its 501s, is not something this Government, or the previous Government, has control of. Jacinda Ardern will no doubt raise it with Anthony Albanese this week when she visits and the chances of improvement are currently the best they have ever been.
Jarrod Gilbert’s statement deserves repeating:
[S]ociologist and gangs researcher Jarrod Gilbert yesterday said New Zealand had seen this kind of gang crime before.
He said people should be wary of politicians promising to lay down the law, particularly when in opposition, adding that legislative change was unlikely to make much of a difference.
Gilbert said solutions needed to target specific problems, rather than targeting the gangs.
We do need to address the causes of crime. National appears instead to just want to stoke up fear for political advantage.