5 Aug 2014

Gang crime measures 'need resources'

3:14 pm on 5 August 2014

The Government's proposed crackdown on gang-related crime is being labelled an easy pre-election hit.

A multi-agency intelligence centre to deal with gang-related crime is being proposed, and steps are being considered including 24-hour GPS monitoring of some released prisoners and banning offenders with gang connections from owning firearms.

Jacinda Ardern.

Jacinda Ardern. Photo: LABOUR PARTY

The Government is also considering temporary freezes on bank accounts and cash, and placing drug dogs at key domestic maritime ports and airports.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said on Monday while gang members make up 0.1 percent of the population aged over 17, they are responsible for a disproportionate level of serious crime and need to be stopped.

Labour's Jacinda Ardern said gangs were an easy hit for the Government and while it was great to share information between agencies, police needed more resources to deal with gangs.

"If there isn't enough resourcing to support these intiatives then we're just simply going to see money moved from one part of police operations to another."

John Key.

John Key. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Community advocate Denis O'Reilly, a former Black Power member, said the announcement was too police-centric and there was no new money for it. He said it looked like a rehash of what is already in place because there's an election coming up.

But Prime Minister John Key said gangs were at the forefront of the manufacture and distribution of drugs.

"They are the critical distribution unit in New Zealand. So naturally having, I think, dealt with a lot of the low-hanging fruit when it comes to crime, if we're really serious about getting the crime rate lower, we have to go into where the more difficult issues are."

Mr Key said the proposals had been being considered over the past year and would be put in place if National was re-elected to goverment on 20 September.