If there was one thing that was clear from the Police Minister Poto Williams's announcement this morning on tackling the rising spate in retail crime, it was that the government was not willing to take any ownership of the problem and remains completely clueless on this complex problem affecting retailers and the wider communities.
For now, the government, it seems, has once again come out and throw money at the problem and is hoping that it will bring the incidences of crime down.
Neither did it has shown any commitment to enhance the rate of prosecution and hold to account those responsible, particularly the repeat offenders.
Nor it has come out with a definite action plan to address the social side of this complex problem in identifying the factors responsible for putting young children and adults on the path of criminal activities.
Sadly, the police minister has merely come across as shifting the responsibility of the rising spate of retail crime in recent months on the Police entirely and not taking any responsibility as the government whatsoever.
This is after the Police has been desperately calling out for help and more sharing of responsibility from the wider communities, and by logic, from the government, to address the complex situation of having to handle extremely young offenders from 12 years to seven years old.
In recent months kids as young as seven-year-old were caught behind wheels as part of a large cohort of ram-raiders, sending shock waves across the Police and other social agencies and compelling Police to come out and appeal to the wider society to chip in this complex problem of rising incidences of ram-raids.
In this regard, today’s announcement by Police Minister demonstrates an abject failure to take ownership and show any leadership to control the seemingly growing sense of lawlessness.
Just two nights ago, there were seven incidences of gang-related shootings at different places across Auckland supercity within a span of an hour, reinforcing what is now largely accepted that the sense of lawlessness is growing unabated.
The Minister’s preference to take questions on ram-raids separately from the issue of rising gang-related gun violence in the ensuing media conference also exhibited a seemingly skewed view that the two issues were somehow unrelated – a view that many experts and retailers do not concur with.
The dairy owners and retailers at the forefront of ram raids and retail crime are often of the view that the newfound surge within young offenders, who are known to commit such crimes driven by adrenalin rush, are often instigated and initiated in crime by more seasoned criminals and gangs.
The victims of retail crime needed to see the government taking complete responsibility for the rising spate of crime and not just throw money for 500 odd shops to get bollards installed.
Managing the $6 million new Crime Prevention program should be an additional and supportive responsibility of the Police – a peripheral responsibility, while their core focus should remain on policing, catching offenders and ensuring they get prosecuted and held responsible for the crime committed on poor retailers.
The government’s latest announcement fails to instil any confidence within the retail sector, particularly dairy store owners and their staff and workers, that their workplace can remain violence-free.
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