Budget 2023: More funding for frontline cops but programme to tackle repeat child offenders bypasses Northland

Paihia law and order campaigner Morgan Pollock, with former cop Denis Orme, fronted a campaign for a permanently staffed police station in the town. Photo / Peter de Graaf

A keystone of Budget 2023’s law and order plans is an early intervention programme aiming to curb crime by recidivist child offenders — including young ram-raiders.

The Government claims the pilot programme has been “incredibly successful” in South and West Auckland, and is now rolling it out to Hamilton, Christchurch and Auckland City.

There’s no mention, however, of expanding it to Northland.

Minister for Children and Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis said the initiative focused on a core group of repeat serious offenders aged 10 to 13, only 28 per cent of whom were referred back to the fast-track “circuit breaker” pilot.


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“The approach ensures once a child is identified or apprehended by police for offending behaviour, information is shared with Oranga Tamariki within 24 hours, a referral is completed and an agreed plan is developed by community providers within 48 hours,” he said.

New Police Minister Ginny Anderson said the Government was closing in on its 2017 pledge to recruit an extra 1800 frontline officers.

To make sure numbers didn’t slip backwards again, the Budget allocated an initial $50.8 million for population-based funding increases to ensure the gains of the past five and half years weren’t lost.

The new funding will ensure the current ratio of at least one officer to every 480 New Zealanders was maintained. The ratio in 2017 was one to 544, she said.


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Other key points of Budget 2023 for law and order:

  • Creation of a digital firearms registry;
  • $39.8m to improve access to legal aid for low-income Kiwis;
  • $7.2m for the development of a victim-centric justice system;
  • $8.2m to reduce delays in the coronial system;
  • An extra $26.9m to combat organised and transnational crime.

Morgan Pollock, a Paihia law and order campaigner, welcomed the extra funding for frontline police but said the difficulty would be finding enough people willing to take on the job.

Pollock’s campaign for a police presence in the Bay of Islands town included a public meeting in 2021 which drew hundreds of people and national media coverage.

She was sceptical about the Budget’s other initiatives, such as the early intervention programme for young offenders and its re-offending rate of “only” 28 per cent.

“The reason kids keep offending is because there’s no punishment for them. Parents need to be held to account and we need to bring back girls’ homes and boys’ homes for recidivist offenders. Giving them a cuddle and throwing money at the problem hasn’t worked in the past and it won’t work now.”

Pollock also doubted the effectiveness of a gun registry, saying it would do little to curb the use of firearms by gangs.

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