With exploding crime and reports of gang crime, ram raids, and shootings making headlines most days, unfortunately, people do not feel safe in our communities, and that is the harsh reality of the New Zealand we live in today, says a well-known community leader.

We spoke to Parminder Singh Papatoetoe, District Advisor to the Counties Manukau Police Commander, Superintendent Jill Rogers, about the escalation of youth offending that both police and retail shop owners are facing.

Sharing his thoughts on the issue, well-known Kiwi Indian community leader Singh says, “As a migrant myself, I understand that there should be a dialogue about increasing crime. Because if there is dialogue, only then some solution can come through. But the problem is that police is not a lawmaker and is only there to implement the law. I completely understand the pain and frustration in the community.”

Singh, who originally hailed from Punjab and moved to NZ in December 2001, feels that the offenders are getting out of hand, and the government needs to step up before it is too late. “Repeat offenders, particularly youth offenders kaabu se baahar hai (Offenders, particularly youth lawbreakers, are getting out of control.) And that is causing a lot of unrest in the wider community. I believe parents of children of communities who are mostly involved in crimes also need to be made accountable. Apart from that, there is a need to have a better system for rehabilitating those criminals and stricter laws. Once stringent laws are in place, the police can implement them, keeping the well-being of the society in mind.”

There is no doubt that NZ is considered one of the safest countries to live in, but the situation is sadly changing for the worse. He says the increasing crimes are creating even more financial and emotional stress for business owners and their employees trying to recover from Covid restrictions. “We are proud to be part of this multicultural society where there are people from 213 different ethnic communities living together. However, this country is not the same now. Sorry to say, it is not as peaceful as it used to be. As a migrant, we are worried about ourselves, our kids, and even our older parents who live with us in NZ.”

It is not shocking to know that many migrant small dairy and business owners are so scared that they have started keeping hockey sticks in their shops for self-defence. “I know so many people in our community who have now started ways of their self-defence be it keeping hockey sticks in their shops. They feel ya maarenga ya maar dega. (They will either we will die or will kill the criminal). This kind of fear should not be there. Our older people who run their businesses don’t go there to get hit or abused but for their family’s well-being. It is sad to see these gangs using young children, and there seems to be a competition among them to see which gang can have a younger criminal. This is so dangerous for the wider community. Everyone in the community needs to be respected and feel safe and sound,” says an emotional Singh, who is also a White Ribbon ambassador and a Justice of the Peace.

So, what are the solutions for the violent crime wave in NZ, which puts our police and the community they protect in more danger? "Political and non-political lobbying both are needed. If the situation doesn’t get better, we will have more people fly across the ditch, which is not good. All the communities need to have a sense of belonging to this nation, and the government, be it Labour or National, needs to work towards it,” signs off Singh.