Bridges criticises police boss on his approach

Andrew Coster. Photo: supplied
Andrew Coster. Photo: supplied

Simon Bridges. Photo: supplied
Simon Bridges. Photo: supplied
Senior National Party MP Simon Bridges continued his attack on police commissioner Andrew Coster in a fiery justice select committee yesterday.
Last week, Mr Bridges described Mr Coster as a ‘‘wokester’’ and accused him of being soft on gangs.

Mr Coster’s appearance followed the launch of Operation Tauwhiro, aimed at targeting and disrupting gang gun violence.

Mr Bridges came out on the offensive, asking Mr Coster if police ‘‘still arrest criminals in New Zealand’’, and asking him to be as firm with the gangs as he appeared to be with MPs.

The first heated exchange focused on the issue of the increase in gang numbers.

Mr Coster told the committee the National Gang List was not an accurate reflection of active gang members, because it did not take into account people who left gangs.

He said this was designed for intelligence purposes, not as a statistical tool.

‘‘Surely you accept that the three or four or five or seven older gang members that come off - ’cause there aren’t many of them - doesn’t remotely make up for the thousands that are going on, and gang numbers in New Zealand, it’s inarguable, are increasing incredibly significantly,’’ he said.

Mr Coster and Mr Bridges biggest clash was about ‘‘policing by consent’’.

Mr Bridges accused Mr Coster of ‘‘tipping the balance’’ too far.

He brought up several examples from his electorate where he said police did not ‘‘show up’’ when crimes occurred.

Mr Coster said policing by consent was not a new approach, and was vital to ensuring police did not clash with communities.

‘‘Let me tell you what policing by consent means. When we look overseas and we see the violent clashes between communities and police — over Covid lockdowns, over Black Lives Matter — that is what it looks like when police lose the consent of their communities,’’ he said.

‘‘It has nothing to do with whether we will deal with gangs or gang offences. We have put more pressure on gangs, taken more assets, taken more guns, in the last year, than we have in any time of our history.’’

Mr Bridges said he felt Mr Coster had ‘‘tailored’’ his messaging yesterday, because he knew what Mr Bridges had ‘‘said in the media’’.

‘‘I’ve had two exchanges with you in select committees now, commissioner. I’ve found you are capable of being very firm with members. I’m just asking that you be that firm with gang members.’’

Speaking outside, Mr Coster said it was not his place to comment on the ‘‘conduct of members’’.

‘‘I really welcome robust challenge of police and what we’re doing and we had a good debate, there’s no easy answers to some of these questions and I welcome the discussion.’’

He would not be drawn on whether he was a ‘‘wokester’’.

‘‘I’m going to let my actions speak for themselves and the positive impact that we’re having for communities.’’

Mr Bridges defended directly criticising a public servant, saying, ‘‘Parliament needs some straight shooters, some people who are going to say what they think without fear or favour, and when it comes to public safety. . . New Zealand needs some hard questions and some honest talk on that,’’ he said.

Mr Bridges denied his leader Judith Collins had reprimanded him, or told him never again to use the term ‘‘woke’’.

‘‘I have great respect for the leader of the National Party, but I only get tellings off from one person, and that’s my wife,’’ he said. 

Comments

I wonder how long Mr Bridges will wait for a police response when he calls 111 after one of the gangs tear up his front lawn with their bikes, throw bricks through his windows and fire a few rounds from a shotgun at his front door.

I suggest Mr Bridges be offered a seat in a police car for a couple of nights in the worst parts of Auckland to see what the Police have to face every day/night, sometimes alone, unarmed and out numbered ... then he may get a feel for what the REAL world is like.

Police Commisioner Andrew Costner ... I take my hat off to you sir !

Keep up the good work.

Goodness knows that the NZ Police have their problems. I believe they are recruiting the wrong type of person, that their training methods are doubtful and their culture is atrocious, But... Simon Bridges... Please!
Self describes himself as a "straight shooter" who "says what he thinks". Well, straight shooter, yeah like he was in the Jamie lee Ross affair. Says what he thinks, you'd think he'd have realised by now that is his biggest handicap.
Simon is angling for a challenge to crusher. He thinks he can bring National to the great heights of, what was it, 29% popularity that he lead them to before they dumped him. Good luck Simon, you're going to need it.

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