The first job of any government is to keep innocent people safe, not to cuddle the criminals who’ve offended against them. Labour has forgotten what its most basic job is.

Since 2017, crime has exploded. There’s been a 120% increase in serious assaults resulting in injury – 13,000 more a year. Ram raids are up 465% over the last two years, driven by a group of youth offenders who simply don’t care because they know the authorities can do nothing.

ACT has today made two policy announcements to make our communities safer:

  • Invest $1 billion to build an additional 500 prison beds to ensure there’s sufficient capacity to lock dangerous people away
  • Invest $677 million to build 200 new youth justice beds and shift the management of youth offenders from Oranga Tamariki to the Department of Corrections.

You can read more about these announcements here and here. These policies are part of ACT’s Real Change alternative budget to be released on Monday 15 May.

Making New Zealanders safe again

Under Labour, violent crime is up but the number of prisoners is down. ACT will reverse those trends.

We will abolish Labour’s goal of reducing the number of prisoners, reinstate Three Strikes, introduce a Three Strikes regime for burglary, and review the use of electronic monitoring for violent offenders.

We estimate these policies will increase the sentenced prisoner population back to its 2017 level and will require us to build another 500 prison beds by 2027. ACT will invest $1 billion to make this happen to ensure dangerous people are kept off our streets.

Imprisonment is not our first choice, but it’s better than lawlessness. Locking up criminals is about preventing more victims.

Holding youth offenders accountable

One of the most important lessons children learn is that actions have consequences. But right now, there are no consequences for youth offenders who terrorise the public.

Oranga Tamariki isn’t equipped to protect the public from them. It can’t be nurturing young people if they’ve been put there for others’ safety instead of their own.

The fundamental problem is that there is no place to take bad kids. They’re too young for prison, they’re known to escape from youth justice facilities, or they’re sent home to their families where they have a lack of guidance and discipline.

ACT proposes to shift the management of youth offenders from Oranga Tamariki to the Department of Corrections, so we have somewhere to send youth criminals.

No one wants to see young people incarcerated, but it’s better than doing nothing and setting them up for a life of crime, and it’s better than small business owners living in fear.

ACT’s Real Change Budget will invest $677 million over the next 4 years to hold young offenders accountable. This includes $500 million on the construction of 200 new youth justice beds and $44 million each year to operate them. These beds will be under the control of Corrections and will replace the 160 youth justice spaces currently provided by Oranga Tamariki. As a result, OT will be able to redeploy these beds – suitably modified – and approximately $25 million a year to young people in state care.

ACT’s plan will mean real consequences for crime and real change for New Zealand.

David Seymour, MP for Epsom, ACT Leader