Bill English on ‘social investment’

In his ‘state of the nation’ speech Bill English explained how his ‘social investment’ approach was used to justify an increase in police numbers and resources.

As a politician and a member of the community I’ve seen lives turned around by quiet heroism in our families, schools and public services. I’ve also seen lives blighted by poor public services, bad decisions, neglect and bureaucratic inertia.

What this demonstrates is that good intentions do not, on their own, guarantee success. If all our social problems could be solved by throwing money at them, then we would have no more social problems because we’ve been throwing money at them for a long time.

What makes a difference to people’s lives is effective support. Until recently, identifying what genuinely helps people has been somewhat hit and miss, but today we’re able to analyse data in ways that didn’t exist a few years ago.

That analysis demonstrates the lifelong benefits of intervening early to help people in need and the lifelong costs of not doing so.

Some New Zealanders need ongoing support to help them lead a decent life. But there are many more who will benefit from smart, light-handed support. And then, they will move on.

Our goal is to help them do so.

Spending more public money is not, in itself, an achievement.

Real achievement is reducing welfare dependency, getting better results for our kids at school, preventing rheumatic fever, and reducing waiting times at hospital emergency departments.

We call our new approach social investment and it’s showing promising results in several areas, but the recent rise in the prison population confirms we’ve got more work to do.

That is why we are investing more in police.

This makes sense to me. Spending more taxpayer money in the short term can have longer term benefits, not just for the budget but also for New Zealand society.

A ‘social investment’ approach, which is effectively research based targeted spending, has it’s critics, but I think if it is done right it is hard to argue with.

UPDATE: a Dom Post editorial this morning is more sceptical – Bill English’s mixed bag

There are certainly still questions about “social investment”, including a new sort of technocratic over-confidence it seems to imply. Even English’s own measures need care: he brags about the diminished numbers of people on benefits, for instance, which might be evidence of a successful policy – or a merely punitive one. But it is at the very least an interesting, coherent approach to government spending. He should flesh it out with more convincing policies.

What’s not convincing about spending more on policing to reduce what are substantial financial and social costs of crime?

English announces Police package

In his ‘state of the nation’ speech Prime Minister Bill English announced a major boost to Police numbers.

This is National’s first pitch at voters in election year, and shows an advantage for the party leading Government – they can do things as opposed to just promising them subject to agreement from possible coalition partners.

Today I announced a new $503 million Safer Communities package to reduce crime and prevent reoffending. Over the next four years the package will fund an additional 1125 police staff, including 880 sworn police officers.

The extra investment will make police more visible and more responsive but, equally importantly, it will enable police to put more time and effort into working alongside other agencies to address the underlying drivers of dysfunction. That’s because we are learning more about what makes a difference to people’s lives.

…we are investing more in police. According to the 2016 Global Peace Index, New Zealand is the fourth-safest country in the world, but demand for traditional police services is growing, and complex and serious crime is absorbing more police time.

The extra investment will enable police to devote more resources to addressing the causes of social problems, not just respond to the symptoms.

In addition to increasing police numbers, the package provides:

  •  A new national 24/7 phone number for non-emergencies.
  •  More staff for up to 20 regional and rural police stations so that 95 per cent of the population lives within 25 kilometres of a 24/7 police presence.
  •  More specialist investigators for child protection, sexual assault, family violence and other serious crime.
  •  Additional resources to deal with burglaries, youth offending and other community crimes; and
  •  More officers to target organised crime.

All 12 police districts will receive extra sworn officers. Police will determine how many will go where, based on the police’s operational requirements.

The package also comes with a range of challenging performance targets for police. Those include higher attendance at home burglaries, more assets seized from organised crime, fewer deaths from family violence and a reduction in reoffending by Maori.

The targets won’t be easy to meet – but we don’t shy away from hard issues.

It’s not surprising to see an increase in police numbers but this is a significant boost.

A phone number for non-emergency contact is a simple but long overdue addition. The 111 system is inundated with non-emergency calls in part because it is difficult to know how to contact the police otherwise.

Police pay damages to Hager’s daughter

The Police stuffed up when they raided Nicky Hager’s house while he was away in October 2014.

Today lawyer Felix Geiringer has advised that the Police have agreed to pay damages and costs to Hager’s daughter, who was home at the time, had her bedroom searched, and had her computer and phone seized.

Police pay-out for Hager raid

In a further development of the legal proceedings over the Police raid of the home of investigative journalist Nicky Hager, the Police have today settled a claim brought by Nicky Hager’s daughter.

Nicky Hager’s home was raided by Police in October 2014. The raid was part of an investigation into the source of Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics. In December of last year, the High Court ruled that the warrant that was used for the raid was “fundamentally unlawful”. The Police are not appealing that decision.

Nicky Hager’s daughter was the only one home when the Police turned up to raid the house. She had to stay and watch the 10-hour raid of her home. The Police search included a search of her bedroom and private belongings. The Police seized and cloned her phone and laptop. The laptop was kept by the Police for over four months. This all happened two weeks before she was due to submit her end-of-degree University papers.

The Police have agreed to pay Nicky Hager’s daughter damages and her costs. They have also agreed to destroy all copies of her information taken during the raid and copied. On that basis, his daughter has agreed to discontinue her proceedings against the Police.

Claims brought by Nicky Hager against the Police following the raid on his home are still ongoing.

During the case brought by Nicky Hager the Court directed that the names of some of those involved, including Nicky Hager’s daughter, not be released in relation to that proceeding.

It was a futile raid that was botched by the Police, at least they have agreed to settle on this.

No charges to be laid against Todd Barclay

After a 9 month investigation the police have announced that no charges will laid against Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay.

ODT reports:

Police will not lay any charges in relation to an allegation against Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay, it has been confirmed.

“After consideration of all relevant information and the Solicitor-general’s prosecution guidelines, police has determined that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute,” a statement from police said yesterday.

Witnesses were interviewed and the case was referred to the legal division of police.

“Police received a complaint in February 2016 regarding an allegation that private communications had been intercepted by an individual.

“This investigation examined all the available information, including interviews with key witnesses.

“All the relevant parties have been informed of this decision,” the police spokesman said.

Coincidentally (possibly) was news this week that Barclay is being challenged for the National Party nomination to stand for the seat next year. See MP challenged in Clutha-Southland.

Charges would have made it difficult for Barclay, especially because the allegations related to a staff dispute in his own office.

Those staff problems will still figure in the contest for the nomination. Barclay is getting some support from his electorate and from some Parliamentary colleagues – see National battles in Clutha-Southland – but Simon Flood must also believe he has support in the electorate and in the party to challenge an incumbent MP.

This should at least be another reality check for Barclay. Any thoughts he had an electorate and a job for as long as he liked should have been dispelled.

Euthanasia checkpoint conspiracy theories

Martyn Bradbury has made claims about the checkpoints used to gather information from euthanasia campaigners that look absurd to me. He seems to have dreamt them up as doesn’t substantiated them at all.

The Daily Blog: So why are the NZ Police taking a sudden interest in Euthanasia campaigners?

Let me be clear.

I am anti-euthanasia. I passionately believe that if this passes, Government’s and State Agencies will not be able to help themselves in promoting Euthanasia to lesson health costs. That’s what Jenny Shipley was secretly trying to do in the 1990s and I sure as hell believe National would use it like that now.

I presume he means lessen. The rest sounds like maniacal scaremongering.

That said, what the NZ Police are doing to Euthanasia campaigners is not only outrageous, but the real reasons behind this weird abuse of power is actually a lot darker.

Falsifying a checkpoint to catch and tag members of any political group or organisation and then turn up on their doorsteps to intimidate them is extreme and barely within the law.

I agree that the abuse of the checkpoint was outrageous, and may have in fact been outside the law.

Which is what the NZ Police are testing out. The incredible search and surveillance powers bestowed upon them retrospectively by John Key for illegally spying on activists added new abilities to actively deceive and effectively entrap activists. This pro-active Policing is clearly something the NZ Police wish to test out.

This is a bloody training exercise.

The Police have selected a low grade activist group with little political clout to test out how far they can actually go with their new powers.

The checkpoint had nothing to do with new spying or search and surveillance powers.

The Police have been trying these tactics out for some time. The Urewera Raids not only used illegal spying techniques (now legal), but they engaged in GCSB  level spying equipment and agent provocateurs. They tried it on with the failed Red Devil undercover plant and more recently used ‘Mr Big’ entrapment scams.

Targeting Euthanasia campaigners is a training exercise as our Police State starts flexing its new found muscles.

Linking the Urewera raids and GCSB spying to the euthanasia checkpoint seems a rather ridiculous leap.

Remember if the new GCSB and SIS powers go through, they can deputise any agency to share their legal immunity if committing crimes. 

Good grief. I haven’t seen anyone one else talking about legal immunity over this. The Police referred themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Authority over the checkpoint.

Bradbury seems to have ended up stranded on the political outer – the maniacal left out.

Police accused of illegal moral crusade

RNZ have more on the using of an alcohol breath-testing check point to identify elderly people who had attended a euthanasia meeting.

Yesterday police admitted they used a breath-testing checkpoint to identify and trace people who had been at an Exit International meeting in Lower Hutt earlier this month.

Shortly afterwards they announced they had reported themselves to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

The acting Wellington District Commander, Paul Basham, said police carried out the operation “in good faith”, but were also aware of public concern about the legal basis for the checkpoint.

But Human rights lawyer Michael Bott said…

…officers misused used their power under the Land Transport Act, which allowed them to stop people, ask for licences and carry out breath tests for road safety.

“What you’ve got is New Zealand police undertaking what appears to be some kind of moral crusade on spurious grounds to such a degree that they’re prepared to use ‘stop and questioning’ powers under the Land Transport Act for ulterior motives, which seems completely improper,” he said.

In their defence, police said they had a responsibility to investigate any situation where they had reasonable grounds to “suspect that people are being assisted in the commission of suicide”.

So why didn’t the police go to the meeting to investigate?

But Mr Bott said police had no right to intervene in the way they did.

“The mere fact that you attend a meeting with a group who believe in the right to commit suicide in certain circumstances – if you’re unwell or terminally ill – doesn’t mean you actually endorse those aims, or that in fact you’re contemplating assisting someone with bringing about their own demise.

“So you really haven’t got good cause to do that.”

Otago University law professor Mark Henaghan…

…agreed the officers had acted unlawfully.

“Under the Bill of Rights Act, there is a provision that people should not be unlawfully detained. They [the elderly people] weren’t detained in the sense of being put in a cell but they were detained, and they were stopped and questioned, and were asked to hand over their licence,” he said.

“The police have no more power than I have to stop someone and say ‘I want to see your licence’, unless they’re using (their power) for the purpose it was designed for, which is the blood alcohol purpose.

“They’re really not using power that they have, so they’re effectively detaining people. If you haven’t got the power to do it then it’s illegal detention.”

Wilhelmina Irving missed the checkpoint but was visited from a plain clothes officer anyway.

She was one of a group of elderly women visited by the officers who questioned them about their connection to the pro-euthanasia activists.

She said the ordeal had made her lose faith in the police.

“You don’t think like that of the police, you think of them as trying to help people, not making things difficult for elderly people really.”

How was she identified?

I hope this is an ill-advised one-off and doesn’t set a precedent for how the police investigate groups of people.

Police numbers game

With a by-election coming up in December, which will probably include a new party campaigning on law and order, and a general election next year, parties are throwing police numbers around.

Police Minister Judith Collins in a speech to the New Zealand Police Association Annual Conference this week:

The Government has also made significant recent financial investments in policing.  Budget 2016 delivered an extra $299.2 million to Police over the next four years, including $279.9 million to fund pay increases

And of course there are more 600 more officers on the beat than there were in 2009, and advances in technology and strategy have made our police much more efficient.

That said, there is no doubt that demands for Police services have increased considerably and there is pressure on Police resourcing.

I take that very seriously and I have been discussing this with Police and my colleagues for some time.

We’re still working through the numbers but recently the Prime Minister confirmed that the government is likely to increase the number of Police.

Will we see numbers announced before the by-election?

Labour threw down the gauntlet. Oddly it’s not on their website ‘Latest news’ yet (or anywhere that I can see on their website) but Andrew Little also spoke at the conference:

I am committed to lifting police numbers in the first term of a Labour Government.

Today, I am proud to announce that Labour will hire a thousand more Police officers in our first term.

There will be 1,000 more Police officers under a Labour Government I lead.

This will take total officer numbers to 10,000, and it will be enough to bring the Police to population ratio back below the international benchmark of 1 to 500.

We will work with police to prioritise these additional officers on the serious invasive and violent offences like assaults, sexual assaults, burglaries, and robberies, and of course, the scourge that is methamphetamine.

This increase will be fully funded.

We’ll boost the total Police Budget in line with the increase in officer numbers.

That means $180m more a year for policing once all the extra officers are recruited.

Nothing from the Greens website yet.

NZ First have been calling for more police for some time. Winston Peters will address the conference this morning.

Stuart Nash versus the constitution and the Police

Stuart Nash, Labour’s spokesperson for Police, was strongly criticised recently for comments made on the sentencing of Nikolas Delegat, including by law professor Andrew Geddis who said Nash was “calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements”.

Pundit: Shut up, Stuart Nash (with added thoughts on the Nikolas Delegat case)

Stuart Nash is trying to make political hay out of Nikolas Delegat’s crime and punishment. The problem is, in doing so he’s calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. That’s … not a good thing.

Here’s what the NZ Herald quotes Nash as saying:

Labour’s Nash said the Government should tell the Crown Law Office to appeal the “ridiculously light” sentence handed down to Nikolas Delegat for assaulting a policewoman.

“The Prime Minister and the Police Minister must come out and condemn the sentence as totally inadequate and state that Crown Law will appeal. This would send a very clear message that this type of behaviour against police will not be tolerated by our communities and offenders will be punished accordingly.”

There’s just so very, very much wrong with this. The Government can’t tell Crown Law to appeal anything. That decision lies in the hands of the Solicitor General, who is a non-political appointee.

Second, Ministers cannot come out and “condemn [Delegat’s] sentence as totally inadequate”.

What Stuart Nash is calling for here is Ministers to completely ignore fundamental precepts of our constitution. Now, I get why he is doing so – he’s seeking to capitalise on some widespread outrage with how Delegat was treated (more on that in a moment).

But the fact is that the Government cannot and should not do what he’s saying it should, and he’s completely out of order to demand that it do so.

A party spokesperson for Police should know these things.

More problems for Nash with publicity about him attacking Police officers.

Early yesterday via Newstalk ZB: Stuart Nash in stoush with Police top brass

A skirmish between Labour and the police has blown up into an all-out war of words.

Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard has written to Labour leader Andrew Little, complaining that Napier MP Stuart Nash is going too far in his criticisms of Eastern District Commander Sandra Venables.

Mr Nash said he’s raising issues that the community wants addressed, but admits he possibly shouldn’t personally target the District Commander.

“She might not be allowed to come out and say MP Stuart Nash is wrong and I refute this, I’d like to meet him at dawn with pistols.”

“But what she can do is start taking a really proactive stance on communicating with the community.”

Nash said he might make future criticism less personal, but he still stands by his criticisms of police leadership.

The Deputy Commissioner has had enough, saying Stuart Nash is repeatedly attacking someone who isn’t allowed to reply publicly, and that he’s incorrectly blaming the District Commander for the problems he sees.

Judith Collins had a dig at Nash

Police Minister Judith Collins thinks something very simple is behind Labour’s criticisms.

“Well I think they both probably have a problem with strong women.”

After his strong criticisms and response Nash softened somewhat later in the day.

Stuff: Labour’s Stuart Nash under police fire over his attacks on the Eastern District Commander

Labour’s police spokesman Stuart Nash is backing down on his sledging of a District Commander after police attacked his behaviour in a letter to Labour leader Andrew Little.

“By and large my criticisms aren’t based on what people tell me, they’re based solely on statistics,” he said.

Little and Nash have met to discuss the letter from Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard, which was also posted on the internal police bulletin board, and Nash says a decision not to mention Venables name in future was his.

“What I’ve said to Andrew, what I’ve promised to do is that I will not mention the District Commander by name again and I’ll confine my severe criticisms to the Police Minister and the lack of funding,” Nash said.

“It’s what I suggested as the best way forward.”

Collins pinged him again:

Police Minister Judith Collins said Nash is in the wrong and “needs to stop it and act more professionally”.

“He needs to stop attacking a senior police officer or any police officer who is not actually able to defend themselves publicly,” she said.

Nash’s plan to change tack and concentrate his criticism on Collins was a sign he has a “problem with strong women,” Collins said.

Andrew Little…

…said he supported Nash “who is doing his job as a local MP” but they had agreed he would keep his focus in the political arena and in particular on the Police Minister.

That’s a wishy washy ‘support him doing his job but he will change how he does it’ sort of comment, and doesn’t reflect the message he brought back from Canada of presenting a positive party.

Rising crime

A few of days after the Government announced a change of focus on  burglaries – see Government and Police versus burglaries – the latest crime statistics show that crime has been rising – especially burglaries.

NZ Herald: Crime up, stats show burglaries to blame

The official crime statistics for the year ending July 2016 were released today showing 11,171 more people were victims of offending than the year before.

The increase equate to a 2.3 per cent rise in crime.

Police Minister Judith Collins said more than three quarters of the increase could be attributed to burglaries.

Nationally, burglaries were up by 11.9 per cent from last year.

New Zealand rime – total offences:

CrimeStatsJune2016

February has the least number of offences but daily averages are normal. The only real standout is the last month, June 2016:

CrimeStatsJune2016Avg

Did the Police start attending all burglaries in June? Or is this a reaction to the sudden surge?

I think there needs to be an attempt to explain the out of the ordinary June total.

Total Offences Daily Average
Jul-14 15201 490
Aug-14 15102 487
Sep-14 15000 500
Oct-14 15168 489
Nov-14 14334 478
Dec-14 14925 481
Jan-15 15072 486
Feb-15 13413 479
Mar-15 14817 478
Apr-15 13713 457
May-15 14289 461
Jun-15 14478 483
Jul-15 13908 449
Aug-15 14592 471
Sep-15 14058 469
Oct-15 14526 469
Nov-15 14094 470
Dec-15 14712 475
Jan-16 14013 452
Feb-16 13512 466
Mar-16 14427 465
Apr-16 14010 467
May-16 15225 491
Jun-16 17100 570

All the numbers are at Statistics New Zealand:

Government and Police versus burglaries

The Government is getting more openly involved in trying to combat crime. John Key has written to Asian communities trying to give them reassurances, and Judith Collins has announced that the Police will now attend all reported burglaries to try and improve the 10% rate of solving this insidious crime.

NZ Herald: PM’s open letter after fears of people taking law into own hands

Prime Minister John Key says an open letter he wrote to the Chinese community about burglaries was partly prompted by concerns people would start arming themselves to defend themselves and their property.

Key’s ‘open letter to the Chinese community’ was sent to four Chinese newspapers this week. It was a modified version of a column he wrote for about 30 ethnic media outlets.

Key said it was aimed at reassuring those communities the Government was taking the issue of crime seriously.

He said crime was often raised with him by ethnic communities. High profile burglaries or assaults sometimes prompted concern an ethnic group was vulnerable or being targeted.

Key said he himself had been burgled three or four times “and I know what an invasive and disturbing experience this can be.”

It said Police were now putting more focus on preventing and resolving burglaries and from September 1 would treat it as a priority, including a goal of attending every burglary scene.

“I would like to reassure you National remains as focused as ever on preventing crime and helping to keep our communities safe.”

The Government has been under pressure over low resolution rates for burglaries.

Yesterday Minister Judith Collins announced a greater focus by Police on addressing a major problem with burglaries.

Police take further steps to counter burglary

Police Minister Judith Collins welcomes Police’s decision to attend all house break-ins, which comes into effect today.

While burglary rates are still below that of recent years, there has been an increase over the past 12 months. Police has responded by raising dwelling burglary from a volume crime to a priority offence.

“This shows Police are serious about tackling burglary and also sends a clear message to offenders.”

The new policy sets the expectation of full attendance at dwelling burglaries so the public can now expect either a constabulary or scene of crime officer to attend within a reasonable time.

“Given the nature of policing there will be occasions where they cannot attend a dwelling burglary for a range of reasons, including adhering to the wishes of the victim. However, the Commissioner of Police has made his expectations clear.

“Police have assured me that they continue to make burglary a priority with ongoing work in every district to reduce this crime type while also focusing on increasing resolution rates.”

If police attend all burglaries it will give them more visibility in the community, which may help address other types of crime too.

While not raised here the number of police officers is becoming a bigger issue.