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Heartbreaking tales of kids as young as five wearing gang patches shows the Government’s approach to gangs isn’t working, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.

“The previous National Government focused on stopping children from joining gangs in the first place by investing in families and young children, while also helping youth leave gangs and enter into productive work.

“We knew that if you invested early, and put the time and money in, then those children would go on to lead productive and happy lives. The current Government lacks this focus.

“This weak-on-crime Government has created a permissive environment that will see gang membership continue to rise, with members joining at younger and younger ages.

“I attended the Taradale public meeting on gangs and heard from a single mum with two boys who is worried they will end up in a gang. She’s asking for help now, which is why National’s Social Investment approach is needed.

“Children deserve a better future, not a life of crime.

“At the meeting the only power the Police had to remove patched gang members from intimidating the public was the Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises law, a law National passed and Labour voted against.

“If elected in 2020, National is proposing to go even further with a ban on gang patches and insignia in public places. The fewer opportunities for children to see patches and gangs in our communities the better.

“New Zealanders shouldn’t have to worry about their children joining gangs. The Government needs to step up and start taking leadership on this issue. National is very clear, we don’t want to see New Zealand become a country where primary school aged children are wearing gang patches.”

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