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Empower Police To Target Gangs

For Immediate Release
Monday, 23 June 2008

Empower Police To Target Gangs

"The best response to the latest wave of gang violence is to empower police to attack gangs at every level," Police Association President Greg O'Connor said today.

Mr O'Connor's comments followed statements by Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws calling for an army response, and Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt's suggestion of a locally-elected Police Chief to deal with gangs.

"These suggestions are well-meaning, but the best advantage New Zealand has in tackling gangs is that we have one national police force, with the ability to operate nationally against organised crime.

"All that is really needed is the will and the resources to allow police do the job. That means passing the civil forfeiture legislation that Parliament has been talking about for years, giving the new OFCANZ the resources it will need, and boosting the surveillance and electronic interception resources available to target gangs at the national and district policing levels," Mr O'Connor said.

"While the recent Mongrel Mob incidents may look like street-level bullying, let's not forget what drives the gangs and lies behind gang conflict: that is, control of an incredibly lucrative drugs trade. Targeting organised criminal gangs is not a job for the local sheriff. We need a sustained, coordinated attack using all the tools at our disposal. That means attacking the ground-level thugs as well as knocking the top off the pyramid.

"Our national police force is the best asset we currently have to fight back - but we need to rally behind the police, empower them to do the job, and give them the resources they need to be effective," Mr O'Connor said.


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