Crime a top priority for frontrunners in Hamilton West by-election battleground

All eyes are on Hamilton West ahead of the December 10 by-election, with rampant crime a key topic amongst all candidates.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Gaurav Sharma from the Labour party in October. The frontrunners in the Hamilton West by-election are National candidate Tama Potaka, Labour's Georgie Dansey, ACT's James McDowall, and Dr Sharma running with his new Momentum Party. 

As a swing seat a year out from the general election, the result in Hamilton West will send a clear message as to who will likely lead New Zealand in 2023.  

In eight of the past 10 elections, the party running the country has also won in Hamilton West.

However, Dansey said she "wouldn't want it to be seen as an indicator of the general election because every electorate is different".

Crime is a priority issue for all of the candidates. Many businesses in Hamilton West have been victims of ram raids and smash and grabs.

Poktaka stands behind National's recently unveiled military academy policy as a solution to the spike in crime. 

This is despite 85 percent of those who went through similar academies reoffending within a year of the last time it was trialled. 

Potaka said the 500 percent increase in ram raids under the Labour Government shows something has to be done.

However, Hamilton West retailers who have been victims of ram raids have doubts about how effective the academies would be. 

"You would still have to catch them first and I think that's probably the biggest issue, I don't know if it would work in reality," one said.

"I don't think punishment is going to change anything," youth worker Tom Hunt said, suggesting the city needs more youth workers. 

Watch Conor Whitten’s full story for more.

Watch Newshub Nation 9:30am Saturday/10am Sunday on TV3, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. NZ On Air supports Newshub Nation.