9 Aug 2013

Maori hardest hit by gang patch laws - Workman

6:50 pm on 9 August 2013

New laws banning gang patches from public buildings will have a greater impact on Maori than any other race, a justice lobby group says.

Parliament has passed new legislation banning gang insignia from government and local council premises, schools and police stations.

It will give the police greater powers to seize gang insignia and arrest gang members from 34 known gangs, including Black Power, the Mongrel Mob and the Tribesmen.

Rethinking Crime and Punishment director Kim Workman says arresting people for wearing gang patches will only escalate situations.

Mr Workman says the legislation is targeted at Maori and will cause harm, as 80% of gang membership is Maori, and Maori make up half the prison population.

Instead of legislating, there should be negotiations between schools, families and local people about gang patches, he says.