19 May 2024

Police and justice system need to re-earn 'lost faith' - dairy owners

8:37 pm on 19 May 2024
Police outside the New Windsor Dairy in Auckland following an assault on 5 October, 2023.

A number of dairies have been the targets of violent crime. Photo: RNZ / Jordan Dunn

Advocates for dairy owners who are frustrated with retail crime say authorities need to reclaim the faith of small business owners.

It follows a meeting in Hamilton on Saturday between small business owners and the ministers of Justice, Police, and Corrections to address safety concerns.

Dairy and Business Owners Group spokesperson Sunny Kaushal said business owners believed they had been ignored for years.

"All those retailers and us, we want the police force and justice system to earn the faith they have lost over the years.

"We need the new government to get the police policing without fear, and the justice holding offenders to account."

Sunny Kaushal

Sunny Kaushal speaks at a dairy owners' rally in 2023. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

In March, police data released under the Official Information Act revealed nearly 150,000 crimes reported at retailers across the country in 2023.

On average, six retailers a day were being assaulted at work.

At the time, Kaushal told Midday Report the data was a wake-up call for the government.

"We have been living in fear everyday," he said.

Speaking after this weekend's meeting, Kaushal said it was up to police and the justice system to earn back the trust of business owners, who felt let down by the inaction of the previous government.

"While the new government was elected with high hopes, it has yet to meet our expectations.

"We understand and appreciate initiatives like the crackdown on gangs, three strike laws coming back, more police officers they are planning, military academies and investment in prisons, but we have yet to see the crime stopping."

Retailers were at their wit's end after being targeted by violent criminals, and wanted to see proposed changes to the Crime Act, giving businesses greater powers, happen faster, he said.

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