Enough is enough
Indian community leader and founder of the Crime Prevention Group, Sunny Kaushal has worked hard to bring mainstream attention to the plight of retailers since launching the Crime Prevention Group in early 2017. This lobby group was prompted by the same spate of aggravated robberies at SME retail outlets that caught the attention of police.
“I said, ‘Well, enough is enough, this is the time.’”
Hardworking, law-abiding taxpayers shouldn’t be subject to aggravated assaults, says Kaushal: “They shouldn’t have to live in fear.” With the Crime Prevention Group, Kaushal hopes to put pressure on the government and force it to take action. Its focus is broadly on law and order, but retail is a key part of this.
“Brutal attacks on retailers in broad daylight show these offenders have no fear of the police, no fear of the law of the land, no fear for any kind of consequence.”
The group’s achievements have so far included a 7,000-signature petition for ‘Better policing and tougher laws for assaults and robberies’; a protest rally in Manukau on April 30; a cross-party forum for political leaders to discuss retail crime; a memorandum presented to parliament with demands for change; an anti-crime advertisement that went viral in China; and a meeting with the Indian High Commissioner.
“The whole ultimate goal is, we wanted to make sure our retailers, our businesses, are safer,” says Kaushal.
He’s proud of the progress his group has made, but wants more significant commitment from the government. Ideally, he’d like the government to toughen its legislation against assaults, and review its policy on punishment of youth offenders.
Kaushal has been widely reported as calling for retailers to be armed, but clarifies that he doesn’t mean they should have guns. He instead wants clearer rules around the mode and manner of legally-acceptable self-defence, and for retailers to be allowed weapons that aren’t guns, such as baseball bats and pepper spray.
“New Zealanders need to be able to stand up against rising crime.”
Over just three days in June, three incidents were stopped by heroic actions from members of the public, Kaushal says. He sees intervention from the public and community involvement as a key component to reversing New Zealand’s retail crime spike, and hopes the three incidents were a sign of change to come.
“We are really happy that this is taking shape.”
Asked for his perspective on why crime against retailers has increased, Kaushal says he believes New Zealand’s gangs are producing a “second tier” of child criminals. Poor parenting and a lack of respect for law and order drives these individuals into crime, which is fuelled by people purchasing stolen goods on the black market.
“This is not about the robberies. This is a bigger societal problem. These are behavioural problems.”