Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Govt gets tough on gangs

New Police Minister, Chris Hipkins has today unveiled a package of measures to help reduce the harm caused by gangs and make communities safer.

“Recent brazen gang activities have been totally unacceptable and our communities deserve better,” Minister Hipkins said.

“Police asked for legislative changes that will give them more tools to crack down on violent offending and other criminal activities. We have listened, and will introduce a package of changes that target this activity as an omnibus Amendment Bill as soon as possible.

“These are practical and targeted measures that will help the Police do their job to keep communities safe. We are interested in real solutions, not empty slogans.”

Minister Hipkins said the new measures will “hit gangs and other offenders where it hurts” by taking their guns, cars and motorbikes and making it harder to launder money.

The new measures include:

  • New targeted warrant and additional search powers to find and seize weapons from gang members during a gang conflict;
  • Expanding the range of offences where police can seize and impound cars, motorbikes and other vehicles;
  • Up to five years prison for a new offence of discharging a gun with intent to intimidate;
  • Police and other enforcement agencies able to seize cash over $10,000 when found in suspicious circumstances;
  • Watches, jewellery, precious metals and stones, motor vehicles and boats added to list of high value goods prohibited for sale for cash over a specified value;
  • Work underway to strengthen sector-wide approach to address youth crime and reduce offending.

There is also work underway across agencies to address the drivers of crime, including youth crime and ensure the problem is being tackled at both ends, he said.

“We know people don’t become gang members overnight, and that the causes are complex and often inter-generational,” said Justice Minister, Kiri Allan.

“The changes we are introducing today are targeted interventions that will give New Zealanders confidence that Police have the required powers to tackle gang behaviours that make people feel unsafe, and that they are proportionate.

“We will continue to ensure we are upping the ante on intervention and prevention measures that are focused on steering young people away from a life with organised criminal groups.

“I will be looking closely at the youth justice system in particular to see how we can make changes that will improve both the lives of at-risk young people and public safety over the long term,” she said.

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