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Community meeting on youth gang violence

Media release
1 November 2005


Community meeting on youth gang violence


Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis says he supports the zero tolerance policy by police towards youth gang violence in Counties Manukau but the problem requires a whole-of-community approach to finding a solution.

On Thursday this week Sir Barry will host a meeting to examine the issue, including how far across the city it extends. Community and church leaders from Otara and Mangere, principals, government agency officials, councillors and Police will participate in the meeting, which will be the first in a series.

Sir Barry says the Council will act as a facilitator to help the community develop its own strategy for dealing with the gangs. The meeting is from 3pm to 5pm and will be held in the Gallery in the Civic Centre, Manukau City Centre.

The impact of youth gang violence is being felt in an arc stretching from the Auckland suburbs of Mt Roskill, Onehunga and Otahuhu, through Otara, Papatoetoe and Mangere in Manukau City. There is a core of 250 members in the Otara – Papatoetoe area, spread over dozens of gangs, each with small numbers, but individual incidents can attract larger groups of participants. The age of those involved ranges from late teens down to around 11 and includes girls as well as boys.

Sir Barry says, “We support the Police clampdown because it is totally unacceptable to have teenage thugs battling on the streets of our city. Most of the violence is gang-on-gang but it is inevitable that other people including innocent bystanders will get caught up in it.

“I believe we can get on top of the growing problem as it is linked to school rivalry and lack of community and family control. Finding alternatives to joining gangs must be the aim. There is no future for young people caught up in violent and destructive gang life and we must act to prevent them getting involved in the first place.”

ENDS

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