Calls for PM Jacinda Ardern to declare crime crisis as dairy owners arm themselves amid spike in violent robberies

There are calls for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to declare a crime crisis as Auckland business owners grapple with a spate of violent robberies and ram raids.

It comes after a customer was stabbed at Sandringham Food Market during a robbery on Wednesday night. It's the second time the store has been robbed recently and business owners are scared.

And it's not the only store, Auckland has been gripped by a crime wave over the past few weeks with an increase in ram raid robberies.

Dairy and Business Association chair Sunny Kaushal told AM's Ryan Bridge it's time the Government acknowledged how serious the situation is.

"A sense of lawlessness is now gripping all of New Zealand and the soft on crime approach is not working. We are calling the Prime Minister to declare a crime emergency in New Zealand, it is that serious," Kaushal told Bridge on Friday.

He said businesses are scared and angry and something has to be done.

"There is a lot of anger and frustrations among these businesses and communities now…It's very serious because now even the customers aren't safe.

"It's very frightening and the business owners, you can imagine how seriously they are frightened and feeling fear and anger."

He said several dairies are employing their own security guards but it's just adding costs to businesses that are already struggling to stay afloat.

"It's very hard to run a business in New Zealand at the moment because the state is failing to provide them security and safety.

"I can tell you 30 percent of the business owners who call me are asking how to get a gun licence. It's become that serious because if the police and authorities are not able to save them they have to save themselves."

Kaushal accused the Government of failing to keep business owners and customers safe.

"Yesterday when people were getting stabbed and robbed and assaulted on the other hand in Parliament the Government was wasting Parliament time repealing the three strikes law."

The National Party has repeatedly blamed what it says is a "soft on crime" approach from the Government.

National police spokesperson Mark Mitchell also blamed changes to the police's pursuit policy for the increase in ram raids.

Mitchell said since the police changed their pursuit policy in 2020 to only chase fleeing cars if there is an overwhelming risk of harm, there has been a steep increase in failing to stop for police incidents.

"Offenders have realised they can steal a car or flee the scene of a crime without the risk of being pursued or stopped by the police," he said.

"As a result of this Government's soft on crime approach, youth offenders, gang members and organised crime groups behave as if they can act with impunity. This has created a violent crime wave in New Zealand which puts our police and the community they protect in more danger."

He said the justice system seems unable to respond to the growing number of youth offenders, causing the police, shopkeepers and the wider public to deal with repeat violent youth offending.

But the Prime Minister has hit back at accusations her Government is soft on crime, pointing out none of the consequences for offending have changed since they took power.

"Let's just look at the bare facts. None of the penalties, none of the consequences for these crimes have changed. So this idea that somehow there is this weakening is just wrong," Ardern told AM last month.

"In fact what you've got to consider is that what we are doing differently is not just dealing with the consequences, if you offend in this country you must be held to account. "

In the latest Budget, the Government announced a $600 million package aimed at addressing crime. The package 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.

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