30 Oct 2008

Commission to look into gangs, promises Labour

7:03 pm on 30 October 2008

The Labour Party has pledged to launch a commission of inquiry into criminal gangs to determine the extent of their involvement in organised crime.

Labour's police spokesperson Annette King said Labour would expect the commission to study gang recruitment and other antisocial behaviour, as well as ways to curb and control gangs.

Ms King said the inquiry would draw on the experience of New Zealand police and hear from police in overseas jurisdictions facing similar problems.

She said the inquiry would also determine whether legislation in South Australia, which outlaws gangs if they are declared a criminal organisation, could work in New Zealand.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor welcomed the announcement, saying solutions to organised crime rely on an understanding of how insidious the problem is.

He said the extent to which organised crime is dominating the criminal and increasingly the public scene in New Zealand would be exposed by an understanding of how insidious the problem is.

Ms King made the announcement when she opened the Police Association's annual conference in Wellington on Wednesday 29 October.

Action needed not committee - National

National Party justice spokesperson Simon Power said forming a committee is not the way to solve the scourge of gangs.

Mr Power said National has already announced plans to clamp down on gangs, including making it easier for police to conduct surveillance on them, and strengthening the law that makes it illegal to be a gang member.

He said New Zealand is worn out with strategies and workshops, and what is needed is an action plan.

Manukau City councillor Daniel Newman, who represents the Manurewa ward, said there is ample evidence of the impact of the recruitment of young people into gangs, about the behaviour of gangs, and about the impact of organised crime.

Mr Newman said the community instead needs more training and education opportunities.