Thursday, March 23, 2023

Kate Hawkesby: Promises to make communities feel safe doesn’t fly, it's time for the Police to get tough

Well just as the new Police Minister was fronting media yesterday and telling them she wanted communities to feel safe, Leo Molloy was making headlines for calling the Police ‘weak as piss’.

His words, not mine. 

The hospitality owner was furious that an attempted break in at his Auckland viaduct restaurant – which caused more than $50,000  in damage -  had elicited a ‘chat’ from the Police, but no arrests.

He had CCTV footage of the offenders, police had shown up and spoken with them, but did nothing more. They were free to go.

So as Molloy is telling this story, newly minted Police Minister Ginny Andersen is busy saying ‘community safety is her focus’.

She told reporters that her focus would be ‘targeting retail crime and youth offending’. And that ‘part of that would be making sure police were available on the front line and responding.’ She said that her ‘single focus will be improving community safety. I want New Zealanders to feel safe,’ she said.

So do they? 

Well if you ask Leo Molloy, probably not. If you ask retailers, probably not. 

If you ask those in the suburbs getting confronted with drive by gang shootings, probably not. But the key point she made I reckon is in regard to her job being about making sure police are responding. 

She said she wants police ‘available on the front line and responding’.

So my question is: are they? 

Is turning up and having a chat with young offenders responding? Is that good enough?

Is making no arrests a response? Does a response include just having a chat with reprobates and sending them on their way? Is leaving a business owner with thousands of dollars of damage and lost revenue while he pays for repairs, a response?

Because although I’m not entirely sure all of this is the police’s fault.

I do think there’s an optics issue here if police are seen to be too soft. And we know where that’s coming from, they’re hamstrung, we get it, it’s top down. 

The commissioner we know beyond a shadow of a doubt is too soft, this government has a reputation for being soft on crime and they’re not really making big inroads to address that.

More utterances and promises to make communities feel safe doesn’t fly when communities just don’t. When those very communities are still being targeted by thugs and vandals and people who couldn’t give a toss about the community, or the law, or any consequences. 

And this is where National is gaining some ground in terms of cut through, they sound serious about crime. Luxon was out yesterday saying crime needed to be tackled ‘really hard’ and there needed to be more progress on it.

He said ‘serious consequences for serious offenders were needed..’ and that.. ‘we need to be on the side of victims of crime, not on the side of offenders..’

And he’s right. 

The balance is tipped too far the other way, though the Government indicates the opposite – that the plight of the offender is more important. 

And I think this will be one of the things that could undo them this election year if they don’t radically address that perception. 

Because it’s one thing to roll out another new face to lead the police portfolio, it’s quite another to have police actually able to get tough and make some headway, other than just pulling offenders aside for a quiet chat, and then letting them go.

Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.


Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

Better still, allow law-abiding citizens to carry handguns and use them for self-defence. Bang, no more crim. Problem solved.

Terry Morrissey said...

Just another incompetent minister spouting the approved rhetoric and propaganda. To work as a clerk for the police hardly qualifies as suitability to be a minister. Another police minister to be tagged and released.

hughvane said...

Who in these times would be a police officer on the front line?

’Cuddles’ Coster, as he has become known known, and his immediate deputy, make no apology for the way (under-staffed) police are expected - and ordered - to deal with offenders. We the law-abiding citizens have absolutely no say in this current philosophy that has seen rampant crime increase markedly.

When asked in Parliament’s Select Committee by the ex-MP Simon Bridges to explain policing, he responded by telling listeners/viewers/questioners, that it was a way he chose to call “policing by consent”. When asked further to explain what that actually meant, he replied that he considered it getting alongside offenders …..” (I’ve forgotten the rest, you can read Andrea Vance’s item about it in Stuff of Feb 20 2022) to persuade them to cease their nefarious activities and become honourable citizens.

Please, stop rolling on the floor with derisive laughter.

The burning question remains - will whoever is elected to govern in 2023 change the way Police are to carry out their appointed duties?

Anonymous said...

Ginny Anderson, another LP talking head, said nothing about HOW she will make communities feel safer. So they are empty words.
If the National Party want to make a point here they should be talking up extending/rebuilding prisons. Even the young offenders need a short sharp lesson. Most of them couldn't survive 24 hours without their Mummy, phone, boooze, drugs and gaming. Throw in bread and water with a blanket on a hard bench and see how quickly they return. But they get HD with all the comforts of home. Go figure. We are pathetically soft on crims and it ain't workin'.