Release: Govt focus on gang wardrobes not good policy

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, justice spokesperson Duncan Webb and police spokesperson Ginny Andersen said.

“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," Duncan Webb said.

“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.

“But this government is not interested in the evidence. Banning gang patches in Whanganui didn’t work as it was too hard to enforce,” Duncan Webb said.

Ginny Andersen said 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,” Ginny Andersen said.

“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,” Ginny Andersen said.

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