Government introduces new legislation to crackdown on gangs

The coalition Government says now is the time to "take action" on gangs, announcing new legislation to ban all gang insignia in public places and create greater powers to stop them from gathering in groups and communicating.  

Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith and Police Minister Mark Mitchell made the announcement on Sunday morning saying the Government is restoring law and order by providing police new tools to crack down on criminal gangs. 

Goldsmith said over the last five years, gangs have recruited more than 3000 members, which is a 51 percent increase.  

"At the same time, we've seen a significant escalation in gang-related violence, public intimidation and shootings, with violent crime up 33 percent." Goldsmith said in a statement. 

"We need to take action and reduce gangs' ability to engage in criminal behaviour and prevent them from further endangering and intimidating Kiwis." 

As part of the coalition agreement between National, ACT and NZ First, the Government will introduce legislation to ban all gang insignia in public places and create greater powers to stop criminal gangs from gathering in groups and communicating. 

"Police will be able to issue dispersal notices, which will require gang members to immediately leave the area and not associate with one another for seven days," Goldsmith said.  

"Courts will be able to issue non-consorting orders, which will stop specified gang offenders from associating or communicating with one another for up to three years. 

"The law will also be changed to give greater weight to gang membership as an aggravating factor at sentencing, enabling courts to impose more severe punishments." 

Mitchell said Kiwis deserve to feel safe in their homes, communities and public places. 

"For too long gangs have been allowed to behave as if they are above the law. There is no tolerance for this behaviour and these new laws will support Police to take action against it."