Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lying their way to a crackdown

Back in August, the government unveilled a crackdown on gangs, with new powers, dedicated taskforces and millions of dollars of extra funding. The problem? The numbers justifying it were all lies:

Cabinet signed off tough new measures to tackle gangs on the basis of inaccurate information which over-estimated the scale of the crime problem.

The briefing paper told ministers 4000 gang members alone were responsible for a huge number of drug and violence crimes, including murders.


The inaccurate figures had suggested the 4000 gang members in New Zealand were personally responsible for about 1500 serious violence and drug charges. New figures show this year gang members were actually responsible for 26 of the 649 serious drug charges laid. They were also responsible for 61 of 868 violence charges.

The difference between the sets of figures is the inaccurate figures which resulted in police excluding potentially 56,000 other people who might have been responsible for the crimes by attributing the actions solely to gang members. Police had failed to mention a wide group of gang prospects, general associates and family of gang members.

This doesn't exactly raise confidence in the quality of government decision-making. Or, given their handling of the "mistake" (dirty politics attacks on the person who uncovered it, then a quiet correction to Cabinet while refusing to correct their lies to the public), in the honesty of the government. But it also raises a very serious question: did the police do this deliberately to gain that extra funding - effectively committing a massive fraud on our government? Or are their policy advisers simply morons who are clearly incapable of doing their job properly? Either way, I think we deserve some answers.