“There are 2,274 less prisoners than when Labour took office, yet Police are being encouraged to reconsider arrests when crime is out of control. Part of the problem is that Labour has scrapped police holding cells,” says ACT’s Police spokesperson Chris Baillie.

Written Parliamentary Questions show that 21 police stations have decommissioned their holding cells since 2019.

“By scrapping holding cells, getting rid of Three Strikes and shying away from building prisons and locking up criminals Labour has sent a message that there are less consequences for crime. In fact, they quite literally sent this message, Police have been instructed to re-think whether they arrest criminals to ease pressure on the prison system.

“Amazingly, the national commissioner for Corrections has publicly stated that there is no need for this directive, it should be withdrawn immediately and Police should be encouraged to use the full extent of the law to arrest criminals.

“In just a few years Labour’s soft on crime approach has driven New Zealand to the point where filling up at the petrol station or grabbing a burger from a fast food restaurant are dangerous tasks. New Zealand can’t become a country where this becomes normal.

“Last night there were two separate stabbing incidents in public places, one of them fatal. This isn’t the country Kiwis grew up in, and it can’t be the country that children become used to. Something needs to change.

“Labour came to office promising to scrap longer sentences for repeat violent and sexual offenders, reduce prison numbers by 30%, and not build any more prisons. The results of their policies are playing out with tragic consequences.

“The Government’s first job is to keep law-abiding New Zealanders safe from criminals. That means having enough room in our prisons to incapacitate dangerous people. If there’s not enough capacity then the Government needs to invest in prisons and ensure there is room to lock up criminals.

“Frontline police are flat out, but the directives they receive are bewildering. They’re encouraged to not arrest people unless they have to, and they cannot enforce any consequences on youth criminals who are being caught committing crimes over and over again.

“One officer said that the ‘consequences’ for youth offenders is to be sent to a facility where they can simply walk straight out of, the ‘consequences’ for escaping is to be sent back to the same facility where they simply escape again. Nothing resembling real consequences for their actions can be enforced which is why ACT has proposed on the spot fines and ankle bracelets.

“It’s well past time for a change of values on crime. New Zealand can’t be allowed to reach a point where kids grow up thinking this is normal. ACT will ensure there are real consequences for crime to keep New Zealanders safe.”

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