orBy Shelley Addison-Bell, Northern Young Nats Central Rep
Crime is an issue for people and communities. When individuals commit a crime, they are taking away from every New Zealander’s contribution to keeping New Zealand safe. Whether it is your neighbour getting burgled, or your local shop owner’s property being damaged, it affects the way you feel about your own and New Zealand’s safety.
I am a New Zealander, and I have also been exposed to the vulnerabilities of families to crime; whether it was my experience as a child woken up by a police officer in the middle of the night, or my brother’s prison sentence, at the same age I am now.
When I think about why or how a person would get to the stage they would commit a crime, I think about the importance of crime prevention, disruption of crime cycles, visibility of our law enforcement, and most significantly, how we can better deliver our public services. I am proud of our justice system and our current focus in these areas, as well as our approach to addressing underlying issues surrounding crime. Unlike Labour, I think it’s about more than New Zealanders ‘deserving’ to feel safe in their homes and neighbourhoods. It’s also more than ‘restoring’ safety. It’s about being a world leader in the way we deal with crime.
I believe National is setting the benchmark in connecting all sectors to address crime. National is targeting areas which are complex, often too complex for previous governments to address, namely family violence, child youth and family, emergency housing, victims support and restorative justice. You would have seen in the media last week about the increase in prison capacity by 1800, an investment of a further $1bn. I think this is a responsible measure in the best interests of those inside prisons. Upgraded prisons mean a higher standard of facilities, and additional prison beds mean more inmates can be closer to their families and their local community. It is also for the benefit of those outside prison, with increased capacity meaning more choice around remanding alleged offenders, especially when violence is the top offence.
If you are still questioning National’s purpose, this government set the target for all prisons in New Zealand to be working prisons. Working Prisons, alongside online learning, prepare inmates for the realities of reintegration, and show inmates they can still have a chance to contribute to society once again.
Our justice system is growing from strength and strength and this is another step towards a better New Zealand.