The Labour Party is promising to deliver an additional 300 frontline police officers if it is re-elected, creating what it says would be the best ratio of police to people in modern history.
A law and order policy announcement from Labour on Thursday included a promise to develop gang convoy legislation that could involve seizing vehicles as well as strengthening legal protections against stalking and harassment.
However, some policies have already been announced by the Labour Government, though are yet to have been fully implemented.
For example, Labour said it would "pass legislation" to establish a new ram-raiding offence with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and for which 12 and 13-year-olds could be held accountable. The measure was announced by the Government in July and legislation creating the new offence passed its first reading in Parliament in August.
Labour leader Chris Hipkins on Thursday said the Government had already delivered 1800 new police officers and would build on this by delivering an additional 300 officers.
That would ensure at least one officer for every 470 Kiwis, the best ratio in modern history, he said.
"This will be a huge improvement on the one in 541 ratio in 2017. With 300 more cops we would increase the frontline by 2,100 officers since we came into office. This is three times the amount National delivered over the same timeframe, when they were last in office."
Labour expects the 300 additional officers to be delivered over four years. There would be 50 additional officers graduating in the first year, 75 in the second and third, and 100 in the fourth. This would cost $124 million over the four years.
The party also wants to develop new gang convoy legislation, which could include seizing vehicles without conviction when it is unsafe for police to intervene at the time of offending. Any breach of road laws by gang members when there are two or more vehicles involved would result in seizure.
Agencies that come into contact with gang leaders or their importation networks will also be tasked with developing new legislative options to restrict gang leaders' ability to operate, organise, profit and support offending in New Zealand.
"This would include going after their ability to recruit in prison and in the community, communicate with their associates, fundraise and conceal their assets, and how they interact with international organised crime for the importation of illegal products."
Hipkins said this work "builds on our effective work in Government to curb the illegal profits and offending of gangs, including passing laws to give Police more powers during gang conflicts".
Stalking would also be added to the Crimes Act if Labour is re-elected.
"If aligned with laws in Australia and the United Kingdom, [this] could entail a penalty of between 12 months to 3 years’ imprisonment, with stronger penalties if the person has possession of a weapon, for those who engage in behaviour of stalking a victim, loiters near the person’s place of residence or work with intent to intimidate."
A number of other policies have already been announced by the Labour Government.
Along with the ram raid offence, Labour is again promising to continue supporting retailers through the Retail Crime Prevention programme, make youth justice residences safer, and make it an aggravating factor at sentencing for an adult to use a young person to commit a crime.
The key points from the announcement:
- 300 more Police officers on top of the 1800 we have already delivered, on the streets and in the community.
- Reducing pressures on Police by enabling mental health officers to respond to mental health call outs through expanding the co-response model.
- Pass legislation to establish a new offence for ram raiding, with a penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment, and hold younger offenders to account.
- Strengthen legal protections against stalking and harassment.
- Giving Police more tools to fight organised crime, including targeting gang leaders and gang convoys.
- Continue to support the highly successful turnaround programmes for repeat youth offenders.
- Pass legislation that will make it an aggravating factor at sentencing for an adult to use young people to commit a crime, and for adults and young people to post their crimes online.
- Continue the cross-agency work programme on victims, which will include reforming the Victims’ Right Act 2002 and reviewing the victim reparations system.