Government's $600 million crime announcement attracts praise from former National leader Simon Bridges

Former Opposition leader Simon Bridges is offering surprise praise for the Government's crime announcement at the weekend, saying "it's good they're doing it".

A multi-million dollar pre-Budget law and order announcement on Sunday will see an increase in police numbers, nearly $100m aimed at tackling gang violence and an extension of rehabilitation programmes, the Government said.

"You hear a lot of rhetoric at the moment from Opposition parties around - 'the Government is soft on crime'... this idea that somehow there's this weakening, it's just wrong," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told AM on Monday.

The new package would contribute towards cracking down on organised crime, Ardern said.

And Bridges, the National Party's former leader and Justice spokesperson who last year called Police Commissioner Andrew Coster a "wokester", has this time praised the Government.

But Bridges, who retired from politics last week, believed frontline police officers still weren't being backed by higher powers.

"First thing's first, it's good they're doing it - right? I mean, you could argue some of it's wasted… but good on them for doing that and recognising there's an issue," Bridges told AM.

"The real issue is from the PM to [Police Minister] Poto to Andy Coster… they have over the last three or four years said, 'Be more understanding, be more caring, be more empathetic.'

"Now they're trying to change their tune on that but, actually, what the police require on the frontline is a very real sense that, 'We back you and we're empowering you, and we will praise your action when you go hard on some of these things.'"

Bridges' former colleague Mark Mitchell, the National Party's Police spokesperson, agreed frontline police officers weren't being backed by the Government - and was far more critical of the crime package.

"Ram raids are now occurring almost daily and we've got dairy owners staying awake all night in fear that they're going to be hit next, some for the second or third time," Mitchell said.

A Newshub-Reid Research poll result released last week, before Sunday's law and order package announcement, found New Zealanders were concerned about Police Minister Poto Williams not cracking down on crime - with 68.3 percent ticking 'yes' to her being too soft while just 18.3 percent said 'no'. 

Williams said on Sunday the Government was investing $94 million aimed at tackling gangs and organised crime while working with communities to address the social factors leading people to join 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."