The government has announced that they will be allocating $6 million to protect small businesses from a spike in ram raids in recent months.
Minister of Police Poto Williams revealed the government’s plan on Thursday.
Williams says the $6 million will come from the Proceeds of Crime Fund and will be invested in the ram raids prevention programme which will cover solutions such as installing bollards or other protection structures.
“While there has been a significant reduction in youth offending over the past decade, there has also been a recent spike in ram raids and related offending which we urgently need to address for these business owners,” says Williams.
The announcement comes after a spike in ram raids across the country by young people as young as 11-years-old.
“This funding will enable police to work closely with vulnerable small retailers to identify effective and practical solutions based on the particular features of each location,” the Minister adds.
Read more: What will Bugdet 2022 do for SMEs.
She says that with the fund, police will look at a range of crime and security risks that retailers may face, and support them with the likes of fog cannons, security alarms or screens. Work in the prevention programme will begin in Auckland and expand if required.
The programme will work alongside the National Retail Investigation Support Unit which was set up in November 2021 in partnership with Retail NZ.
Greg Harford, Chief Executive of Retail NZ says the announcement is “significant” for the sector.
“The ability for the most at-risk retailers to access crime prevention tools will support the sector on the issue of retail crime,” he says.
“Retailers across the country are experiencing retail crime on a daily basis, whether this is violence, aggression, theft, ram raids or anti-social behaviour. Accessing this fun to gain support from the NZ police is another step forward in delivering and responding to a significant issues for the retail sector.”
Harford adds that the cost on retailers following ram raids has a “significant impact” on the mental health of owners and employees, and a financial strain on the sector.
Cheryl Adamson, General Manager at the Parnell Business Association welcomes the $6 million for crime prevention for small retailers.
“The cost of ram raids can often run into the tens of thousands, depending on the level of damage done. We’ve had several incidents in Parnell. For small retailers, it can take months to complete repairs. But it’s not just replacing windows, internal security structures such as grills and shutter doors come with hefty replacement costs, and they still need additional protection such as bollards, and they need them now,” she says.
“For dairy owners whose livelihood is their store, the costs involved can be daunting. Not to mention how vulnerable they must feel and there seems to be no consequences for the perpetrators.”
However, Adamson says that the Parnell Business Association would prefer to see a “simple and straightforward plan” because “police are already greatly under-resourced” and the process Williams has stated sounds “long-winded”.
Alongside the fund, Williams announced that the Ministry will also be tackling the drivers of the crime by supporting agencies to focus on the causes of child and youth offending.