Government backs police to crack down on gangs

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster and Minister of Police Mark Mitchell watching as the Comancheros' gold-plated Harley-Davidson motorbikes are crushed and turned into scrap metal. Photo: NZ Police.

The coalition Government is restoring law and order by providing police new tools to crack down on criminal gangs, says Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith and Police Minister Mark Mitchell.  

“Over the last five years gangs have recruited more than 3000 members, a 51 per cent increase," says Goldsmith.

"At the same time, we’ve seen a significant escalation in gang-related violence, public intimidation and shootings, with violent crime up 33 per cent.

“We need to take action and reduce gangs’ ability to engage in criminal behaviour and prevent them from further endangering and intimidating Kiwis."

Goldsmith says that is why, as part of National and ACT’s coalition agreement, the Government will introduce legislation to ban all gang insignia in public places, and create greater powers to stop criminal gangs from gathering in groups and communicating.  

“Police will be able to issue dispersal notices, which will require gang members to immediately leave the area and not associate with one another for seven days," says Goldsmith.

“Courts will be able to issue non-consorting orders, which will stop specified gang offenders from associating or communicating with one another for up to three years.

“The law will also be changed to give greater weight to gang membership as an aggravating factor at sentencing, enabling courts to impose more severe punishments.”  

However the Opposition's justice spokesperson Duncan Webb and police spokesperson Ginny Andersen say "the Government's re-announcement of its impractical policy on gang insignia isn't going to make it work any better", and will only put more pressure on already stretched frontline Police.

“This is a superficial policy that adds little if anything to existing powers and even worse, the evidence shows it doesn’t work to reduce gang activity and intimidation," says Webb.

“We all agree that gang intimidation must stop, but insisting that Police use their resources to chase down people for wearing jackets, bandanas, hats, even jewellery like rings, rather than criminal behaviour, is not the best way to do that.  

The ACT Party says the gang crackdown is welcome and overdue.

“ACT welcomes the Government cracking down on gangs and the introduction of ACT’s policies to do it," says ACT Justice spokesperson Todd Stephenson.

"After five years of Labour cuddling criminals and ignoring victims, it’s time for gangs to see consequences for their actions.

“Gangs are responsible for harm and chaos across the country, they peddle drugs, are violent and intimidating. They cause misery in our communities."

Stephenson says imposing tougher sentences on gang members by making their membership an aggravating factor is an ACT policy that will mean less people see their only prospect as becoming a gang prospect.

"ACT also campaigned on issuing dispersal notices and non-consorting orders," says Stephenson.

“The gang members who ruin so many peoples’ lives are going to find more consequences for their actions because of ACT’s policies.

"ACT’s coalition document also got rid of Labour’s prisoner reduction target, commits to introducing Firearms Prohibition Orders, and reintroducing Three Strikes."

Stephenson says it’s time they sent a message to New Zealand that crime will be punished, that criminals can’t get away with committing senseless violent acts on people trying to earn a living, and that victims are at the heart of the justice system.

“ACT believes protecting the safety and property of New Zealanders is the government’s first and most important job," says Stephenson.

"We welcome policies that restore balance to a system that has become too focussed on criminals instead of victims.”

The Opposition's police spokesperson Ginny Andersen says if the Government wants Police to do more they need to back them with resourcing, not cut their budget.  

“Frontline police are stretched already dealing with criminal behaviour, so we have to look at what is the best use of their time. It certainly isn’t being the wardrobe Police,” says Andersen.

“New Zealanders expect that gang members will be caught and punished if they’re committing crimes – it doesn’t make a difference what they’re wearing. In fact it’s likely that banning gang patches will only make Police jobs more difficult as they’ll be harder to find. 

“We support continued efforts to reduce the impact and influence of gangs in New Zealand, but it is disappointing that the Government is diverting resources from effective operations such as targeting the financial networks of gangs – hitting them in the pocket where it hurts them most – and ignoring the evidence that their actions will have no significant impact on reducing crime,” says Andersen.

Minister of Police Mark Mitchell says New Zealanders deserve to feel safe in their homes, communities and public places.    

“For too long gangs have been allowed to behave as if they are above the law," says Mitchell.

"There is no tolerance for this behaviour and these new laws will support Police to take action against it.”

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1 comment


Posted on 27-02-2024 08:27 | By Yadick

Actually 'posing' for photo opportunities, that's arrogant, uncalled for and unprofessional in their Ministerial positions.
Other than that, an excellent job with an excellent outcome.

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