Garth McVicar congratulates police for shooting man dead

The founder of a tough-on-crime lobby group has praised the police for shooting a man dead.

Police said a 29-year-old man approached them with a machete near Puhoi, north of Auckland, around 4am on Sunday. After they shot him first aid was administered, but he died at the scene.

In a Facebook post on Saturday evening, Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar said the man's death meant there was "one less to clog the prisons".

Screenshot of Garth McVicar's Facebook post.
Screenshot of Garth McVicar's Facebook post. Photo credit: Facebook/Garth McVicar

"Congratulations to the New Zealand Police, our thoughts are with the officer who was forced to take this action to protect the public."

While most of the comments on the post were supportive, there were a few who said Mr McVicar should be ashamed.

Mr McVicar defended the comments when Newshub got in touch.

"If you want to spark a debate in this country, you have to say what you feel, what you think - and that's exactly what I did.

"It's going to get a wider debate going around why we have such a high crime rate and that we have mental health problems that aren't being dealt with in this country."

He said it was about time the country got "a lot smarter about dealing with entry-level crime".

"Now is the time to instigate that debate. I don't think we just need to become more liberal and say we're going to lock up less people. We need to be dealing with the root causes of the problem."

Garth McVicar.
Garth McVicar. Photo credit: Paul Henry

Mr McVicar has long argued for harsher prison sentences. He made headlines last year for saying Māori had only themselves to blame for being imprisoned at a higher rate than non-Māori.

He has also called for prisoners' sentences to be extended after they have already served their time, for a lowering of the age of criminal responsibility and in 2013 said gay marriage would increase crime rates.

Mr McVicar unsuccessfully stood for Parliament with the Conservative Party in 2014.

Prison numbers are at an all-time high. Justice Minister Andrew Little wants to bring them down by reforming the justice system.