Steep increase in people joining gangs alarming

The number of people joining gangs has increased at an alarming rate this year, National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“According to Police, more than 900 people joined gangs this year. That’s a 13 per cent increase despite Covid-19 forcing the country into lockdown and isolation.

“As a result of the continuing increase in gang membership, our streets are becoming more dangerous.

“Gang membership on the rise is one of the causes of the increased gun violence we are seeing on our streets. Gangs are shooting at each other, and police officers are being shot at regularly. We shouldn’t tolerate this violence in New Zealand.

“We need to crack down on gangs and the violence and misery they peddle immediately. The Police are doing all they can with the resources they have, but they’re being let down by a Government that has no plan to deal with gangs or stop their recruitment.

“The Government should be doing more. National has tried again and again to introduce our Firearms Prohibition Orders Bill but the Government has blocked it at every opportunity. This is a sensible piece of legislation that would give Police more powers to search and take firearms off gang members, and focuses on criminals and illegal activity.

“All we’ve seen from the Government is an acceptance that criminals won’t follow the law, nothing on how we can curb this increase in gang membership.

“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.

“The soft on crime attitude from the Government has seen gang membership increase steeply under its three years in power. The time for action is now.”