First of all, I want to extend the Green Party’s sincerest well-wishes to the victims of crime in the community. Too many dairy owners, small business owners and everyday Indian New Zealanders just trying to live their lives have to live in fear. Nobody should have to live in terror. Nobody should be leaving their homes without being sure that they’ll make it back unharmed. It is a damning indictment of National’s New Zealand that there has been 1287 aggravated robberies – an increase of nearly 87 per cent from the previous year.
We need to put victims at the centre of the debate – that’s why it’s our policy to ensure that victims of crime get compensation and counselling they need so they can move on with their lives. And that’s why the Green Party is focussed on addressing crime through effective measures.
Tougher punishments and harsher penalties are not a long-term solution to stopping crime. They are a surface level response which will not meaningfully prevent or reduce crime. What will work is attacking one of the main drivers of crime – poverty. There is no excuse for assaulting or stealing from your fellow humans – but too many New Zealanders have been put in situations or were born into situations where they don’t feel like they have any other options but to resort to crime. Our families package will directly address the poverty that many households in New Zealand face by increasing benefit levels, removing disincentives to work and restoring the training incentive allowance. We will make sure that everyday New Zealanders have income to thrive and seek out education or work opportunities instead of turning to crime.
Besides working to eliminate poverty – we also need to reform our criminal justice system. We need to focus on effective measures which will deter and reduce crime. A model that focuses on rehabilitation is more likely to stop a criminal from reoffending compared to a model that focuses on punishment. We are seeing more and more that some prisoners are being released straight out on to the streets without transition support available. This means that they’re back where they started, homeless and economically desperate – and more likely to reoffend.
Last – but not least we need to invest more in critical public infrastructure – from education to police. We need more frontline police working in the community. We need a well-funded education system that gives people opportunities and keeps people out of trouble.
The Green Party stands for a criminal justice system that works for everyday New Zealanders. By taking effective measures to restore justice – we will be putting victims at the centre of the debate.
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