Gang Policy Setting Communities Up For Failure

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Green Party says the Government’s misguided policy on gangs will fail, following the announcement of the establishment of a national gang unit and district gang disruption units to target gang activities.

“If unleashing police on gangs to lock up its members worked, we wouldn’t have gangs in Aotearoa,” says Green Party Police spokesperson Tamatha Paul.

“Forcing police into direct confrontation with gangs is simply repeating the same failed tactics that do not work. Gangs thrive where there is poverty and a lack of opportunity. Liveable incomes, employment and education opportunities, good housing – these are the things that truly crack down on gang membership.”

“Banning gang patches may satisfy the government’s need to look tough on crime, yet submissions to the Justice Committee on this legislation suggest it will prove difficult to enforce and will result in more surveillance and criminalisation of Māori.

“Don’t forget, the State created gangs through the trauma inflicted on tamariki in state care and by keeping communities impoverished. Meeting trauma with punishment isn’t going to work.

“Recent cases of gang violence and crime will be scary for communities. But letting loose the police on steroids is not going to address the problem of organised crime, prevent violence, or keep people safe,” says Tamatha Paul.

“Being more proactive about addressing gang activity shouldn’t include taking measures which inflame tensions with gangs, are practically unworkable and also take away police resources from other priority areas.

“We need action to address the underlying drivers of crime and what causes people to join gangs in the first place, not more of the same simplistic solutions that we know do not work, and ultimately see the cycle of crime continue,” says Tamatha Paul.

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