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Labour dodges harder line on gangs

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

1 May 2008

Labour dodges harder line on gangs

The Labour Government’s admission that it is losing the war against methamphetamine can in a large part be sheeted home to the fact that Labour has failed to do anything substantial to tackle gangs, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

Police Minister Annette King admitted today that strategies to combat the billion-dollar trade in ‘P’ are not working.

“This should come as no surprise to anyone, considering their failure to act on gangs for the past nine years. And even now they are still backing off a number of proposals to tackle gangs.”

A Cabinet paper from March reveals that Labour has rejected or deferred far more measures to combat gangs than it recommended, leading it to conclude that ‘none of the proposals in this paper require an immediate legislative response’.

“Police Minister Annette King didn’t recommend to Cabinet any law changes that would make it easier for police to destroy gang fortifications, saying the current law ‘appears sufficiently broad’.

“This is despite the fact that they can’t say how many gang forts have been stormed over the years, and that last year it was removed as a ‘key operational practice’ from the Police Statement of Intent.

“Labour has also backed off creating a new offence directed at people who don’t commit crime but who orchestrate the activities of those who do.

“And they have rejected most proposals for dealing with intimidation resulting from the mere presence of gang members in a public place – such as civil injunctions, crime prevention directives, and anti-social behaviour orders.

“However, the Cabinet paper shows police were keen on new powers to address this kind of intimidation, so officials have been asked to consider it during the first year of operation of the Organised Crime Strategy.”

Other proposals deferred for up to a year include:
* Restrictions on gang access to legal mechanisms such as limited liability companies and incorporated societies.
* Enabling undercover police to testify in a wider range of organised crime trials.
* Tighter controls on the availability of precursor chemicals for drug manufacture.

“After the shooting of toddler Jhia Te Tua last year, the public were led to believe that Labour’s action on gangs would be swift.

“But plans to increase sentences for gang members, which were signed off last July, have still to see daylight, and it now seems Labour has no other specific measures to tackle gangs.

“It’s no wonder the war against ‘P’ is being lost. If you tackle the gangs, you tackle a large part of the manufacture and distribution of ‘P’. National has previously announced plans to do exactly that.”

Link to Cabinet document (see pages 1, 2, 15, 16):


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