Government funding reactionary, neglects prevention amidst crime wave - social worker

By Stefan Dimitrof

The number of ram raids and robberies around the country is rapidly increasing, particularly in Auckland, with 40 ram raids recorded in the last month alone.

A recent Newshub-Reid Research poll shows 68 percent of New Zealanders believe Labour isn't putting enough effort into tackling the crime wave despite a pre-budget announcement of  $562 million dollars, allocated to combating crime.

Kiwibank local hero of the year Dave Letele, (Ngāti Maniapoto) already works with public health and social services across Auckland to deliver his BBM programme to help improve health outcomes for those dealing with obesity and long term health conditions.

Now Letele is teaming up with artist Tame Iti to try a different approach. “We're not just about boot camps and physical exercise, we are about helping any of our people down at the bottom looking up, thinking it's impossible”.

“So many people talk about doing things, we just do it.”

The government announced it was investing $506 million to upskill the police with tactical training to the Armed Offenders Squad for police officers, hiring more police and creating a new police unit to tackle gun crime.

“Just imagine if they invested that kind of money into prevention. The people who are teaching the course have walked in their shoes. We understand it," Letele said.

Drug dealers present success

“No one likes being broke. The reason we are seeing an increase is the gap between the haves and have nots is getting worse”.

“As long as that gap gets bigger, crime is going to increase”.

Many ram raids are being performed by youth and Letele still thinks that it is all related to poverty. He points out that in poor areas where kids don’t have anything and see only gang members and drug dealers present success, that’s all they have to aspire to.

“Prison is not rehab. They come out worse.”

Letele agrees there needs to be some element of punishment but says there has to be a rehabilitation programme to help people recover and reintegrate back into society.

“These youth never had a chance, they were born in last place, they can’t even see a start line and yet people talk about choice. People who talk about choice have choices, which is far different from what we are born into”.

Letele says the BBM framework requires government, business and community working together for the common good. “it’s a long term thing, there needs to be money invested into community programmes that are proven to work.

“If you want to fix any community issue, go down to the community and have a look at what’s working. Its common sense but it’s the least sense used by these bureaucrats down in Wellington”.