Hamilton West by-election hopefuls say they’re tough on crime

Safety is top of mind for those who want to become the next Hamilton West MP, and by-election hopefuls want to show voters they can be tough on crime.

National candidate Tama Potaka said her focus is helping people and businesses “feel safe and not broken”, calling Hamilton the “ram raiding capital of New Zealand”.

While there were spikes in ram-raid-style crime this year, mainly in Auckland and Waikato, youth crime rates have generally fallen since at least 2014.

Potaka encouraged the government to consider National’s recent proposal to crack down on serious repeat offenders. Its Plan to Combat Juvenile Delinquency includes the establishment of a juvenile delinquent military academy for adolescents, electronic monitoring, targeting gangs, and empowering community groups to “break the cycle of delinquency.”

“We have a plan, it has been announced. Others are based on ideology,” Potaka said.

“LSV [the Defence Force’s Limited Service Volunteer course] is a good example of what has worked. MAC [Military-Style Activity Camps] it really worked. Fifteen percent of the people who attended the MACs, military academies of the National Government, did not actually reoffend.”

He said the camps resulted in a 50% reduction in serious violent crime, “and that’s what Labor is soft on.”

The policy of sending juvenile offenders to military-style camps was tested in the 1980s, in 2009 with Sir John Key, and again in 2017 with Sir Bill English.

A 2013 Ministry of Social Development evaluation of MAC found that between 12 and 15 percent of those who graduated from the program did not reoffend in the following two years. Of those who reoffended, there was a 57% reduction in offense severity and a 47% reduction in persistence.

Labor candidate Georgie Dansey said National’s juvenile delinquency policy “has already been done and it has failed”.

Dansey, a former teacher, said she has taught students who come from difficult homes. She said young people like this were more prone to committing battering rams.

“This is not just a police issue, this is a community issue as well. We need to look at this holistically with comprehensive support for our communities.”

The Government announced a package of measures against juvenile delinquency in September that emphasized that more young people access education, training or work.

Police are holding juvenile delinquents accountable and the government is serious about dealing with crime, he said.

Police data also shows that as of October, 307 arrests have been made in Waikato in recent months for trespassing and robbery offences. Those arrests included 205 offenders, with several being arrested more than once.

Nearly 90% of burglars are under the age of 20.

But retailers are calling for more support to protect their stores from theft.

ACT candidate and list MP James McDowall said the government’s $6m Crime Proceeds Fund for security measures such as bollards has been a “total failure” for retailers due to the “arduous process” by which they have to go through to access the money.

The top four candidates go head-to-head over who can best represent the electorate.

Dansey said 13% of battering ram crimes had taken place in Hamilton, with 15% of that fund allocated to businesses in the city.

Since it was announced in May, police have told Q+A that 83 stores are on track for completion or have already completed installations for more security equipment. However, police could not immediately provide Q+A with a breakdown by location.

A total of 500 stores are expected to qualify for funding, but the police select which stores are eligible rather than the businesses themselves.

“It’s a shame that it took a by-election to get this kind of policy out of the National Party,” McDowall said of National’s juvenile offender policy, pointing to the ACT’s September youth anklet proposals.

At the time, National’s Erica Stanford told Discovery’s AM that the idea of ​​electronically monitoring serious offenders as young as 11, as ACT suggested, “breaks my heart.”

Earlier this week, national leader Christopher Luxon clarified the party’s position: “We don’t want to see an 11-year-old, I suggest, with an ankle bracelet. But if that has to be the case, so be it.” “. If he’s a serious repeat offender, so be it.”

Gaurav Sharma, who is running under New Zealand’s Momentum Party after being ousted from the Labor Party, said he had seen the effects of crime during his years as a local MP.

“I live right next door to Frankton Bakery and have been going there for the last five years. I’ve also been to the Frankton markets. So it’s good that the new Auckland candidate can [visit local businesses affected by crime]Sharma told Potaka, who had recently moved to Hamilton West.

“You could be good security, mate,” Potaka replied.

The Hamilton West by-election was sparked by Sharma’s resignation in October, following his very public fallout with the Labor Party.

Voting in the by-election begins on November 28 and ends on December 10.

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