New report shows no quick fixes to gangs

Criminal gangs are here to stay, according to a report by the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor.

That's unless politicians put aside their 'tough on crime' rhetoric and agree to change their approach. 

However,  there wasn't much of that today. 

Denis O'Reilly has been in and around gangs most of his life, he's a life member of Black Power.

"I'm no saint by any means and I took part in a fair bit of that gang life," Denis O'Reilly said.

He's a community advocate now and even has a masters in social practice - but he does keep an eye on what's happening in the gang world.

"They are just a fact of life and it's the least bad outcome that is going to be the best we can do".

He was one of the contributors to this report, ordered by former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, into gang harm.

Understanding Gangs

- No quick fixes 

- Can't arrest our way out of gang problem 

- Political rhetoric isn't helpful 

- Zero Tolerance by police won't work 

Source: Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor 

It concludes there are no quick fixes to gang harm, we can't arrest our way out of the gang problem, political rhetoric like tough-on-crime and soft-on crime isn't helpful, and a zero-tolerance approach by police won't work.

"There are no short-term solutions but there is real hope in changing the type of landscape we have at the moment," Report Co-Author, Tracey McIntosh said.

"People talk about being tough on crime, I actually think the current Commissioner is being 

smart on crime, and what I hear the former dog handler proposing, is in my view dumb on crime," O'Reilly said.

That former dog handler is Mark Mitchell, seen here in 1996, he's now National's Police Spokesperson, his party wants to ban gang meetings in public and wearing patches too. 

"Gangs are not nice people. They want all the rights of being Kiwis, but they're not prepared to take the responsibilities of being Kiwis," National Leader Christopher Luxon said.

"They pedal in misery and cause suffering to many families up and down this country of ours".

The report recommends a stronger focus on prevention and early intervention, expanded violence reduction and addiction services, more prison rehabilitation programmes, and a health approach instead of a solely law and order approach. 

Possible Solutions 

- Prevention and early intervention 

- Violence Reduction and Addiction Services 

- More prison rehabilitation services

- Health rather than law and order approach

Source: Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor 

"We are not going to be able to incarcerate our way out of this, to truly have those long-term effects, we are going to have to look far more holistically," McIntosh said.

This holistic approach is more or less supported by Police Minister Ginny Andersen who wasn't available for comment today. 

"We are going to work on those long-term challenges and that social deprivation, that often is a driver and leads into a life of crime. Long-term consistent hard work," Luxon said.

"The true fix is better education, better housing market, better job market, so people have better prospects at being a gang prospect,"  Act Leader David Seymour told Newshub.

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