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Ask Me Anything: Mike Bush and Paula Bennett talk law and order, ram raids and ministerial memories

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Former Police Commissioner Mike Bush says organised criminal groups are helping drive the ongoing ram raid activity. Photo / Getty Images

Former Police Commissioner Mike Bush said he has spoken with young people committing ram raids, who revealed to him they are “stealing to order” for more established criminals.

Bush, who served as the country’s top cop between 2014 and 2020 and now runs consultancy firm Bush International Consulting, reunited with his former Police Minister Paula Bennett on her New Zealand Herald podcast, Ask Me Anything.

Discussing advice for people concerned by a rise in crime over the last year, Bush said,
“I agree that there needs to be far more accountability for their behaviour, far more consequence, and there doesn’t appear to be.”

However, he said people need to understand the environment, and how it has become a “carrot-and-stick situation”. Bush told Bennett how he recently spoke with some of the young people involved in ram raids as part of one of his new roles.

“One of the things that I asked about was, ‘so what do you do with the property?’ [And they say] ‘Well, we’ve got people lined up with the readies, the cash, to pay for these great items’.

“You know, whether it’s jewellery, whether it’s fashion items, they are stealing to order, because there are criminals in our communities who are cashed up, ready to do this. We know who they are. They’re gangsters. They are these outlaw motorcycle clubs who have more Louis Vuitton and Versace than most people, who have cash because they sell methamphetamine, and they drive so much other crime.

“So these young people have a ready market. That’s not the only component to this, but it’s one of the important ones because they know that cash is gonna be there in their hand within an hour of those ram raids.”

Listen to the full interview with Mike Bush below:

Bush said that while he understands the drivers of gang behaviour, and that was something he and his team did their best to address, there isn’t anything good about gangs and organised crime.

“Any idiot who says they’re okay [and] we’ve got to better understand them is not really understanding the harm that comes from them.”

Bush said that if people see a ram raid taking place, there is an element of human nature in wanting to stop it, but when it comes to property-based crime, no one should risk their life and wellbeing to intervene.

“Do what you can. Video it, record it, watch as much as you can. Direction of travel, just what they’re wearing, all those sorts of things. If you can video them without being seen, [it] might just be the track shoes they’re wearing [that] might be enough evidence to identify them later in a court case.”

Listen to the full podcast below, where Paula and Mike discuss the challenges he faced in his former role and he shares more advice around crime and police, while Paula discusses one policy she regrets not passing through Parliament and an interesting event she and Mike attended in the Solomon Islands …

• Ask Me Anything is a NZ Herald podcast, hosted by Paula Bennett. New episodes are out every Sunday.

• You can follow the podcast at iHeartRadio, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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