To deliver effective justice in today’s changing world, we must put victims at the heart of our criminal justice system.
National understands that through no fault of their own, victims are often left with deep physical and mental scars, and often feel let down.
These victims should have the support that they need to help heal and move through our justice system with as little stress as possible.
Defending victims’ rights
As the Party of Law and Order, National has a proud history of delivering strong, effective policies which reduce crime, improve community safety and help break the cycle of intergenerational family violence and abuse.
We do this by staunchly defending the rights of victims and holding serious, recidivist offenders to account.
Our approach to justice is proven and effective. Between 2011 and 2017, National reduced youth crime by 31% and overall crime by 14%.
As National’s Justice Spokesperson, I have dedicated most of my adult life to law enforcement and community safety, both here at home and overseas.
Whether it be as a young New Zealand Police dog handler stopping an armed offender from entering a primary school or leading security operations against religious death squads targeting women and children in the Middle East, I have always fought hard for the rights of victims.
No meaningful reforms
Under the current Government, the rights of victims are taking a backseat. More victims are suffering at the expense of a slow and clunky system. It now takes about 46% longer to get through cases in the District Court.
Labour has made no meaningful reforms to the criminal justice system since they came into Government. Instead, the number of serious harm cases before the Courts have increased by 25 per cent, while the percentage of crime reported to Police has decreased by 10 per cent.
National is focussed on making sure the Court process is easier to navigate for victims.
We strongly believe that no victim or their family should ever leave a courtroom feeling like they have not been heard.
Led by Simon Bridges, our Justice team is determined to restore faith in the criminal justice system.
Strong National record
Our record on law and order is strong. Whilst in Government, we put together a package for shop keepers who were dealing with armed robberies and assaults, which included a range of security and prevention measures, like fog cannons, high volume interior alarms and panic alarms. This package has been incredibly useful, and has meant more Kiwis can feel safe at work.
Now, we are seeing increases in gang membership.
There has been a 26% increase in patched and prospect gang members under the current Government. You only have to watch the news to see story after story of gang members refusing to hand in firearms and brazen gang meetings in public places.
From my time in the Police, I have seen first-hand the harm that gangs inflict on our communities. They are responsible for an enormous amount of social harm.
To get rid of gangs in our communities, we need to change the way we deal with them.
National has recently released our law and order discussion document which highlighted a number of ways to interrupt gang activity, shut down their criminal businesses and place harsher sanctions on gang-related offending.
We will give Police greater powers to search the homes and cars of violent gang members and are proposing a new unit within the Police to harass and target gangs.
And while we want to get tough on gangs, we also want to provide off-ramps for members who want to leave the gang culture behind and find a better life for their families.
That is why our Gang Action Plan will go hand in hand with our Social Investment approach.
Social Investment aims to prevent crime before it happens, by investing in those more likely to be involved in criminal activity, and giving those people the support they need to change.
The Labour-led Government has gone soft on crime.
It has no plan on how to tackle the growing gang problem or restore faith in the criminal justice system.
Instead, it is focused on reducing the prison population without coming up with a plan to reduce crime first.
National believes victims should be at the heart of the justice system.
Our approach to the justice system is evidence-based, forward-thinking and, above all, victim focused. We intend to make New Zealand a safer place for all Kiwis.
Mark Mitchell is elected Member of Parliament from Rodney and National Party’s Spokesperson for Justice, Pike River Re-entry, Defence and Disarmament.