National Party leader Christopher Luxon slams 'soft on crime' Government as new figures reveal 39pct increase in retail crime

National Party leader Christopher Luxon has called on the Government to "harden up" and take retail offending seriously as new figures reveal a spike in crime.  

Data provided by then-Police Minister Stuart Nash to National's police spokesperson Mark Mitchell on Sunday show retail crime has increased by 39 percent in the past year.  

The figures showed there were 292 retail crime incidents every day in 2022, up from 140 per day in 2018. 

Luxon and Mitchell held a press conference from The Rib House restaurant in Flat Bush, Auckland on Sunday, which had been targeted by thieves last week. 

Mitchell said the couple who owns the restaurant moved from South Africa to raise their children in a safer country, but the spike in retail crime is the same as "what is happening in South Africa". 

Luxon said the Government is being "soft on crime" and called on them to implement the youth crime policy National unveiled last year. 

"We're seeing a huge spike in crime and it's not just a spike, it's actually been in this country now for over a year or so that we're seeing these elevated levels of crime," Luxon said on Sunday. 

"The question is, we don't have to accept that this is the status quo and our answer is very simply that we want the Government to consider and implement our plan, which is about backing up police, tackling gangs and also dealing with serious youth offenders as well."

If elected, National has promised the worst of New Zealand's reoffending youth aged between 15 and 17 would end up in military-style camps.

The party pitched the plan as a "tough love" response to the country's ram-raid epidemic.

National would also create a new criminal category for those aged 10 to 17 who committed serious crimes like ram raids and armed burglary more than once.

These would face sentences including electronic monitoring like ankle bracelets, community service - or, for those aged 15-17, being sent to new military academies.

National Party police spokesperson Mark Mitchell and leader Christopher Luxon.
National Party police spokesperson Mark Mitchell and leader Christopher Luxon. Photo credit: Newshub

"The Government needs to harden up and have serious consequences for serious offending and at the moment all those remedies and those penalties exist, but they're not being fully utilised as they should be," Luxon said. 

The National Party leader said New Zealanders don't need to accept the increase in retail crime as the "new normal" and has slammed the Government for not doing enough to tackle the issue. 

Luxon described Chris Hipkins's tenure as Police Minister from June 2022 until he became Prime Minister as "pathetic" and "ridiculous".

"I mean, Chris Hipkins was the police minister and in an eight-month period, he managed to support 23 businesses only, which is pathetic and ridiculous in terms of actually being able to help strengthen and harden their defences," Luxon said. 

"They're [Government] not doing nearly enough to actually support the victims of crime … and it just speaks to again that we've got retail crime out of control in New Zealand."

Luxon said the Government should be making sure the Government is on the side of the victim, not on the offender.

"We get to choose that this is not something that we find acceptable. You know that when fellow New Zealanders want all the rights of being a Kiwi but are not prepared to take the responsibilities, that's something we are not up for," he said.

National wants ram raids and retail crime to decrease, but Mitchell noted criminals will adjust their tactics. He stressed the biggest issue is the Government not dealing with the rise in retail crime. 

"Ram-raids, carjackings, we cannot afford for this to become something that's normal in this country and we have to reverse it," Mitchell said. 

"That is not going to happen under a soft-on-crime Government that has been hell-bent in five years on repealing three strikes legislation, emptying the prisons by 25 percent and creating a permissive environment where gangs can go and take over our roads and intimidate and threaten members of the public."

Newshub have appraoched the Police Minister for comment. 

This story was amended on 21/03/23 to reflect the original source of the police figures.