Prime Minister promises $503mil to make communities safer

By Renee Kahukura-Iosefa

The Prime Minister's State of the Nation speech today was focused around making communities safer and included a $503 million dollar investment in police.  The package has three components, targeting and catching offenders, preventing crime and victimisation and delivering a more responsive service. 

Prime Minister Bill English stated, "The recent rise in the prison population confirms that we need to do better.  We have made some progress in breaking the cycle of welfare dependency, child abuse, low education levels and accelerated criminal offending- a cycle that is intergenerational, trapping generations of families. 

The Department of Corrections statistics from December 2016 show that 50.8 % of prisoners are Māori.  Māori re-offending rates are worse across the board than any other ethnic group- 64.4% will be re-convicted and 41.2% will be back in prison within two years.

Te Kaea asked the PM how Māori will benefit under his leadership.  

 "While we talk a lot about the disproportionate numbers of Māori in prison they are also among the disproportionate number of victims," says English, "Any step we can take, like a big investment and 1100 more police staff, is going to help them feel safer.  

"Māori will benefit directly from the kind of policies that we are announcing today.  Māori are the among the most re-victimized [people] in the whole country.  There is a group of around a thousand 5-year-olds each year who in later life are far more likely to commit crime, be on a benefit or go to jail and far less likely to succeed at school.  If nothing changes each of these children will cost tax payers an average of around $270,000 over the next 30 years with some of them costing a million dollars."

With regard to the future revitalisation of the Māori language, Te Kaea asked the PM whether he supports Te Reo Māori being taught in schools throughout Aotearoa.

He replied, "We don't support compulsion".