New ram-raid offence a ‘knee jerk reaction’, criminologist says

A criminologist says the government is following the polls, not the evidence, in its new hard-line strategy for young ram-raiders.

Smash and grabs are set to become a new criminal offence as the government moves to crack down on the rise in retail offending.

It is a move that has been roundly criticised from both the left and right of politics and now those with expertise in the area have weighed in.

Auckland University criminologist Dr Ronald Kramar said the policy might be tough on crime but it did not make sense.

“It’s the same story over and over again. Does anybody seriously think that these proposals are going to crack these tough nuts?

“So much evidence shows that these punitive interventions make people worse.”

Kramar put the government’s policy down to a “knee-jerk reaction” to look tough on crime in an election year.

Police Association president Chris Cahill was bemused at the point of creating an entirely new offence for ram raids.

“It helps with recording the number of those offences but the reality is it’s a burglary.

“So I’m not sure it achieves a lot beyond the superficial nature of naming a particular type of burglary.”

On the frontline, a vocal spokesperson for small retailers, Sunny Kaushal, said he had been left wondering why it had taken the government so long to introduce the policy.

“It’s disappointing the changes were not introduced when Chris Hipkins was the police minister and it was obvious to all New Zealanders that kids were committing crime with impunity.”

Kaushal said many businesses and families had been destroyed by a “plague of ram-raids” that could have been stopped years ago.

“I have been personally saying a tsunami of crime was coming for over six years now. We have been ignored until the crime emergency became a political emergency.”

The ram-raid legislation will be introduced in the next few weeks but will not be passed before the election.