Saturday, April 20, 2024

Govt sells new retail crime prevention package

A multi-million dollar package to tackle retail crime has been announced by the Government today, with new initiatives to see partnerships established with small businesses and local councils.

“While youth crime is now much lower than in the past, the risks and harm from ram raids and other retail crime is concerning communities and creating victims,” said Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

“Shop owners and workers feel targeted. That’s unacceptable.”

The Prime Minister said Police were having a noticeable impact on offending rates, with ram raids during November down by 83% compared with August – with just 13 so far this month against a total of 75 in August.

“But we need to lock that progress in and sustain it,” she said.

“The initiatives we’re announcing today make this the most significant crime prevention financial package in recent memory. 

“It backs up Police actions, through funding to support crime prevention initiatives, such as better street lighting and cameras and by investing in more fog cannons.”

Fog cannon subsidy scheme

The Government will establish a new fog cannon subsidy scheme which will be open to all small shops and dairies in New Zealand who wish to install a fog cannon.

“Funding of $4,000 will be available for each shop who will be able to have the fog cannon installed through an approved supplier, meaning they can access them directly without an onerous process. Additional details will be released shortly,” the Prime Minister said. 

Police Minister, Chris Hipkins said the introduction of the scheme will be the first time the fog cannon and ram raid funds have operated at the same time.

“Despite global supply chain issues, Police has been successful in ordering an extra 455 fog cannons, which are expected to arrive before Christmas. This adds to the 270 fog cannons that are currently in the country and have been allocated to affected shops,” Mr Hipkins said.

“More challenging will be the time it takes to install them. The 1,000 fog cannons that are already installed took four years, and despite Police doubling the number of local contractors that will do the work to six, it’s expected it will take till the second quarter of next year for the number of installations to start to ramp up.”     

The fog cannon fund was set up in 2017 after aggravated robberies of commercial premises had doubled from 2015 – from 599 to 1,170. It was then expanded in 2018 and 2019, and 1,000 fog cannon were installed by the end of 2021.

New funding of $4 million will also be made available to local council to assist with crime prevention measures.

The funding will comprise $2 million for Auckland Council, $1 million for Hamilton Council and $1 million for the councils in the Bay of Plenty to match on a dollar-for-dollar basis by councils for local crime prevention measures.

The partnerships are likely to be focused on Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) measures in geographic areas where small retailers are commonly targeted, such as street lighting, CCTV cameras and planters.

The Government said talks had already been held between Police and government officials and Auckland Council, Hamilton Council and Bay of Plenty Councils to identify opportunities that can get started soon.

The Government announced it will also extend the Retail Crime Prevention Fund.

“The $6 million Retail Crime Prevention Fund was set up for small shops and dairies in early 2022 as offending shifted to ram raiding. Today, we’re expanding eligibility to aggravated robbery committed over the last year,” said Ms Ardern.

“Police are making progress on the number of stores accessing the fund. More than 100 shops now have installations approved, with 431 security measures allocated and underway. This includes 93 fog cannons, 78 security sirens, 57 alarms, 63 CCTV systems, 43 bollards and 36 roller doors.

“We’ll also continue our work with repeat offenders and their families,” she said.

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