Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett has promised an $82 million methamphetamine and gang crackdown if National is re-elected.
The funding – spread over four years – would go towards “tough measures” towards some drug dealers that Bennett believes have “fewer human rights than others”, as well as more drug rehabilitation places.
The enforcement measures, costing $42 million, would give police new powers to search cars and houses of “serious criminal” gang members at any time with no warrant to ensure they don’t have firearms, double the number of drug dog teams, increase penalties for synthetic cannabis, put new restrictions on gang members on benefits, and introduce a new charge for those who damage a property with meth production or consumption.
$40 million would go toward 1500 additional drug treatment places and community treatment.
I like the mixture of rehab and treatment and stricter law enforcement measures.
Police would be able to search the houses and cars of known gang members with a previous serious violent conviction at any time with no warrant under the new law, which Bennett admitted presented a human rights issue.
“It probably does breach the rights of some of those criminals but they have to have had a serious violent offence behind them already and a firearm charge and on the basis of that we are going ahead with it,” Bennett said.
Asked point blank whether she believed criminals had human rights, Bennett replied “some have fewer human rights than others when they are creating a string of victims behind them.”
I would not say they have fewer human rights – human rights are universal. But once you are a convicted criminal you can face more onerous requirements for stuff such as bail, parole and ability to access firearms etc. Likewise if you are serving a sentence you lost some rights such as liberty. But such restrictions should be proprtional.
I don’t like using gang membership as a proxy for serious offenders. There may be a case for allowing warantless searches of people with a string of serious convictions – but that should be regardless of membership of a gang.