Mike's Minute: National's law and order policy a vote winner

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 27 Nov 2019, 9:40AM

Mike's Minute: National's law and order policy a vote winner

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 27 Nov 2019, 9:40AM

There is a very good reason National are going down the law and order path, votes.

It's rich territory, it's always been rich territory. It was rich territory back when both major parties and New Zealand First were tough on crime and they merely tried to out bid each other.

But National have seen quite the gap emerge. The fact New Zealand First can sit in a government and give prisoners the vote is a massive back down on the rhetoric of old, and in many respects explains why they are in the trouble they are.

Yes, MMP is about compromise, but when you have chosen a coalition combination with the extent of ideology it has, you are often stretching credibility to pretend it's all about give and take when it comes to policy, and you wander off into the area of farce.

Labour's rat they were forced to swallow was the Capital Gains Tax. Winston Peters and gang members voting is New Zealand First's.

So come on in National. Special squads are rules for the police over gangs, welfare reform for gangs on benefits, overhauls of court systems, and a tough approach to the worst of the youth offenders. It's all worth real traction and will unquestionably play well next year.

The opponents argue we've been here it doesn’t work. But, and this is the critical part, what does “work” mean?  

So much of crime, and the debate around it, is based on recidivism on the belief that we need to some how find a system where by you can punish and then rehab them, so they don’t come back.

Trouble with that is its not real, and it never has been. Hence our recidivism rate and the endless debate chasing the magic solution.

The police put out their new policy on dealing with Maori re-offending the other day. It aims to reduce Maori re-offending by 25 percent. It replaces their last policy on Maori re-offending that didn’t work, and guess what? Neither will this.

Why? Because police don't prevent re-offending, those offending reduce offending by not offending. What we know is prisons work because those in jail don't commit more crime. It's a simple statement of fact.

We got troubled last year when the prison population hit 10,000, a new record. What were we expecting? We want tougher punishment, and when we get it, we get taken by surprise.

The reality is some people can't be rehabbed. Just how much per prisoner do we want to spend on welfare, on specialists, on crime prevention programmes, and on education on the overarching belief that if you throw enough state care at someone they are somehow going to go straight.

Some will, of course, but many, and stats back it up, don’t and won't.

This government, whether it be the attempt to stop three strikes, or whether it's giving crooks votes or watching gang numbers explode, is taking a touchy-feely approach to crime and punishment.

National sees it, and in a move that’s good for democracy and probably for their support base, is offering a solid alternative. The punter has real choice, and I think I know who's on the winning side.