Focus on gangs is timely

NZPA | Tue March 1st, 2016

“It is vital that the public of New Zealand do not become complacent about the extent to which gangs in New Zealand are expanding their sphere of intimidation. This week’s announcement and subsequent publicity around establishing a co-ordinated gang intelligence centre ensures that criminal gangs and their activities remain topical,” Police Association President Greg O’Connor said today.

“The Association welcomes the centre, but all the intelligence in the world is pointless unless the agencies involved, especially Police, are resourced sufficiently to use the information to investigate and prosecute criminals.”

“Intelligence is not evidence, and the long-term, targeted operations that are needed to get evidence against those at the top of the gang hierarchy, as opposed to dispensable, street-level ‘jail bait’, are expensive and require commitment from all agencies to seriously disrupt criminal activities. Organised crime investigation teams are frequently reassigned to other priorities and gangs are thriving as a result.”

Mr O’Connor is calling on the Government and agencies to set achievable targets to measure whether gang influence is waning and to consider innovative ways to disempower gangs, especially reducing opportunities for them to make money.

“This begins with ensuring there is no incentive to join gangs, especially in prisons, and providing realistic incentives for individuals to leave gangs. Such incentives will need to include education, employment and relocation opportunities, to sit alongside targeted legislation,” Mr O’Connor said.

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