New Zealand Law Society - Gang Action Plan details announced

Gang Action Plan details announced

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Police Minister Judith Collins has announced details of the Government's Gang Action Plan, which consists of four initiatives aiming to provide an intelligence-led response to gangs.

Among these is a plan to introduce several new pieces of legislation which would strengthen powers against gangs.

The plan brings together information held by Social Development, Customs, Corrections, Internal Affairs, Immigration and the Police.

She says New Zealand's first multi-agency Gang Intelligence Centre is now operational and collecting intelligence on gang activity.

"One initial piece of work has been case studies of gang-affiliated families. This work has shown that gang members are disproportionately victims of family violence and other violent crimes themselves, and that this is being repeated through the generations at significant cost to social services," Ms Collins says. 

"The Gang Intelligence Centre is piecing together gang member family trees and identifying criminal histories and family links in ways not seen before."

Ms Collins says over 30% of the total prison population are affiliated with a gang and the proportion of prisoners identified as gang members has been steadily increasing.

The Gang Action Plan includes the Gang Intelligence Centre and three other programmes:

Start at Home: This is a programme to refocus existing social initiatives, and develop new programmes, to address the intergenerational nature of gang life.

Multi-agency taskforces: These will target drug trafficking networks, including disrupting new gangs attempting to enter New Zealand, and restricting and monitoring international gang travel. A second taskforce is charged with strengthening asset recovery efforts, preventing financing of crime and targeting profits received from crime.

Strengthening legislation to increase powers: Legislation which Ms Collins says is included here is:

  • The Electronic Monitoring of Offenders Legislation Bill will allow courts to stipulate 24-hour GPS monitoring on high-risk offenders following release from a prison sentence of two years or less where court conditions limit where the offender is allowed to go.
  • Interim freezing orders (cash) - amendments to the money laundering offence in the Crimes Act 1961 came into force in 2015. These amendments clarify the position for Police and address some of the difficulties Police face in seizing cash found in suspicious circumstances.
  • Firearm Prohibition Orders - development of a regime for this is well advanced. These will restrict the access of certain individuals to firearms.
  • Drug Detector Dogs - The Minister of Police has considered preliminary advice on a proposal to deploy drug detector dogs at domestic ports.