National‘s proposal likened to 18th century ideas

National Party leader Simon Bridges Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

National's proposals have been panned as a leap back to 18th-century ideas of punishment.

It has released its latest discussion document - law and order - positioning the party as "tough on crime" and floating a suite of policies with the end goal of eliminating gangs.

That includes banning gang patches, creating an elite police team to target gangs, increasing penalties for youth offenders, and requiring prisoners to have NCEA Level 2 numeracy and literacy to be eligible for parole.

The proposed policies have raised concerns that vulnerable groups will be further marginalised, but some victims' advocates are welcoming the proposals saying they would put victims at the centre of the justice system.

National leader Simon Bridges wants to take a cue from New South Wales police - establishing a taskforce modelled on their "Strike Force Raptor", a unit dedicated to cracking down on gang members for everything from parking fines to punch-ups and liquor licence breaches.

"The government I lead will harass and disrupt gangs every single day I am prime minister," says Simon.

Strike Force Raptor had been "devastatingly successful", he says, pointing to an increase in drug busts and arrests.

However, JustSpeak director Tania Sawicki Mead says that was based on an outdated idea of punishment that ignored the evidence and underlying issues.

Gang membership was being fuelled by young people who were being sucked in and spat out by the justice system, she said.

"It's easier to find and blame a scapegoat for complex social problems than it is to take responsibility for the government's role in creating and perpetuating the problems."

Greg Coombes, a lawyer in Grafton, New South Wales, who represents motorcycle gang members, told Morning Report the charges Strike Force Raptor had so far come up with weren't related to gang activity.

"A couple of examples - they have raided houses and haven't found anything in the houses and have breached them for dogs not being properly tied up in the back yard and things like that.

"I know one member had his car ripped to shreds - $7000 of damage to it where they cut through the seats and door linings - looking for, I can only imagine - drugs. They found absolutely nothing and left him with the bill ... the perception I have got is they come in looking for activity, the typical what you would see in the movies bikie activity, and they simply come up with nothing."

However, Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesperson Jess McVicar says gangs inflicted terrible damage, and welcomed a crackdown.

"We're often dealing with people who were just in their homes and they've been attacked out of the blue ... as much as people are trying to say at the moment that they're not violent, the cases that we have are absolutely horrendous."

Justice reform advocate and former National Party courts minister Chester Borrows says he could see both positives and negatives in the ideas.

He was also pleased there was a focus on speeding up the court process and putting victims at the heart of the justice system but says it needed to be acknowledged the victims were sometimes the ones in the dock.

Chester says widening the 'clean slate' programme for young offenders was a good thing, but increasing the penalties for the most serious young offenders could have unintended consequences.

-RNZ/Yvette McCullough.

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How do you...

Posted on 29-11-2019 19:25 | By morepork

ban gangs and patches (as if that will change anything...) without violating people’s rights to free assembly and wearing whatever they like? Gangs exist because there are many young people who feel isolated and the gang gives them a family. We need to stamp on the illegal activities of gangs, NOT the gangs themselves, and that’s what the Police currently ARE doing. Maybe give more support to the current efforts...?


Posted on 29-11-2019 10:15 | By dumbkof2

fully agree with yadick in everything they said just the other day i saw a gang motorcyclist with a very noisy bike go past a police car. i expected to see him pulled over but no nothing done about it. how do they get a warant for their bike


Posted on 29-11-2019 10:04 | By Merlin

Had nine years why now.Oh that’s right election year coming up.

National drips

Posted on 29-11-2019 09:23 | By 2up

The Australian model National is clinging too has been proved a failure. It simply pushed the problem further underground. Bridges has been spreading false information with no facts about the NSW experiment. He has no other policies so he is racing to the bottom again. You need to work with gangs not against them.

Against The Gangs

Posted on 28-11-2019 21:53 | By Yadick

Bring it on. Run the little boys that can’t stand up for themselves out of town. Always gotta hunt in a pack. Too weak to stand alone. What’s with the ’beautiful’ noisey bikes. If that was my car it would be put off the road. The way they ride in packs trying to intimidate people. They’re just low life. They don’t care about others. Bring it on Simon Bridges. It’s way beyond time the cops stood up to them and did their job. WAY too PC. I don’t care if it’s 18th century, I don’t care if it’s 14th century, I don’t care if we copycat Australia. Yeah it’ll cost us millions but save us billions. You go Simon.


Posted on 28-11-2019 19:47 | By dumbkof2

at last someone that is prepared to stand up against these gangs criminals and thugs

Just saying

Posted on 28-11-2019 19:26 | By Merlin

Firstly the Police already have a unit specifically to deal with gangs and are doing a good job confiscating property and cash from their activities and getting them before the courts.Having to go to Australia to get ideas?? Just looks like a vote catching exercise to me and rhetoric.

Silly season soon us

Posted on 28-11-2019 18:26 | By Kancho

The silly season approaches. No not Christmas an election year. So time for Simon to pull out the old chestnuts on law and order and gangs. Really same old stuff. Meanwhile our council is going the opposite way with a bylaw that in spite of what they say appears to be working. The poor beleaguered business owners want to stay in place as do most shopping ratepayers . The man rights of a few over the rights of the many. Silly season indeed.

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