Budget 2022: Government announces major $600m package aimed at tackling New Zealand crime

The Government says it's taking steps to address the spree of crimes currently rippling through New Zealand, with a near-$600 million major package announced on Sunday.

It will see an increase in police numbers, nearly $100m to tackle gang violence and extend the successful rehabilitation programmes to break the cycle of offending and entering a life of crime, the Government says.

In one of the first major announcements for the 2022 Budget - to be announced by Finance Minister Grant Roberston on May 19 - the Government said it will invest more than $562 million over four years into police.

"This Budget builds on our investment in record police numbers, tackling gun crime and violent offenders and reducing reoffending, all of which help to keep New Zealand communities safe," Police Minister Williams said.

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said that even though youth crime was decreasing, "there is more to do" as other areas were increasing.

"Our investment in law and order has made a difference. Since we took office, we have 1411 more Police on the frontline - the highest number in our history, youth crime has decreased and there are 3,083 fewer people in our prisons," he said. "But there is more to do.

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi
Justice Minister Kris Faafoi Photo credit: Newshub

"In recent years we have seen increases in gun crime, gang activity and even more recently some forms of youth offending that puts both our communities and our police at risk and we must address that.

"Our response needs to address the root causes of crime, especially when it relates to young people, provide more rehabilitation to reduce reoffending and actively pursue and prosecute those who participate in illegal gang activity."

The Government said the $600m package announced on Sunday will target seven areas:

  • Deliver "largest police force ever"
  • Set aside extra funding to grow the police force to match population growth
  • An additional $94 million into tackling gangs and organised crime
  • Funding to support businesses to protect themselves from ram raiders
  • Targeting gun crime with the establishment of new firearms unit within the police
  • Increase the safety of frontline police with the nationwide rollout of the tactical response model with the training of more police officers to armed offenders squad standard
  • Breaking the cycle of crime with $198.3 million investment in programmes that break the cycle of offending and funding for 518 extra Corrections staff to support rehabilitation

Williams said the first priority of the new package was to increase police numbers on the front line.

"When we took office, turning around declining police numbers was our number one priority. Once we achieve our goal of an extra 1800 Police officers later this year we will ensure numbers don't fall away again by maintaining an ongoing ratio of one police officer to every 480 New Zealanders.

"Under National, we saw police numbers fall away as new officers weren't hired when police retired. And when we came into office that ratio was standing at one police officer for every 548 Kiwis."

Police Minister Poto Williams
Police Minister Poto Williams Photo credit: Newshub

Williams said the Government was investing $94 million into tackling gangs and organised crime while working with communities to address the social factors that lead to people joining gangs in the first place.

"This will have a strong focus on enforcing the law while also preventing the harms caused by gangs and organised crime.

"We know police are increasingly subject to gun violence. The package includes an extra $164.6 million operating and $20.7 million capital funding over four years to expand the highly successful tactical response model, which ensures police are trained, equipped and supported to keep themselves and the communities they serve safer.

"This includes funding for dog units so they have an AOS trained officer with them and more training venues where police will receive improved tactical response skills," the Police Minister said.

She said the Government was committed to tackling increasing gun violence.

"Key to that was banning semi-automatic weapons and passing legislation that ensures it's a privilege, not a right to own a gun and restrict access to those who use them safely."

There will also be $208m of funding to establish a new firearms business unit within the police.

"The unit will have oversight of implementing the significant and ongoing Arms Act legislative changes, which overseas examples tell us are central to reducing gun crime over time."

Ram raids have sparked over the last month. On Tuesday three people were arrested after four incidents across Auckland, while on Sunday, the Caltex service station on Savill Dr in Māngere East was ram raided - although the offenders failed to gain entry and fled the scene.

Williams said the package will tackle the rise in ram raids.

"Similar to the process that supported the installation of a thousand fog cannons in retail outlets, we will help high-risk businesses protect themselves from ram raiders," Williams said.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis Photo credit: Newshub

The package will also target growing police numbers in prison to match the population growth in New Zealand's jails, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said.

"Larger prison populations are not a sign of success, they are a mark of failure. The majority of offenders have previously been in jail so if we want less crime, we must have less reoffending," Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said.

"With gang numbers continuing to rise in prison, extra staffing would also help address the challenges this posed for prison staff while also providing improved access to rehabilitation programmes.

"We are setting the foundation for change. It will take generations to break cycles of violence, but the evidence is the plan is working - we just need to keep going with what works."