Labour dismisses coalition Government's crackdown on public gang patches

Labour dismisses coalition Government's crackdown on public gang patches
Photo credit: File

Labour has dismissed the coalition Government's crackdown on gang patches, calling it "superficial policy".

On Sunday, Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith and Police Minister Mark Mitchell said that as part of National and ACT's coalition agreement, the Government will introduce legislation banning all gang insignia in public places.

"For too long gangs have been allowed to behave as if they are above the law," Mitchell said.

"There is no tolerance for this behaviour and these new laws will support Police to take action against it."

But Labour warns the Government's focus on gang wardrobes is "not good policy" and will put more pressure on frontline police.

"The evidence shows it doesn't work to reduce gang activity and intimidation," justice spokesperson Duncan Webb said in a statement.

"We all agree that gang intimidation must stop, but insisting that Police use their resources to chase down people for wearing jackets, bandanas, hats, even jewellery like rings, rather than criminal behaviour, is not the best way to do that."

Labour's Police spokesperson Ginny Andersen said the Government needs to back Police with resourcing, not cut their budget.

"Frontline police are stretched already dealing with criminal behaviour, so we have to look at what is the best use of their time. It certainly isn't being the wardrobe Police," she said.

"It is disappointing that the Government is diverting resources from effective operations such as targeting the financial networks of gangs - hitting them in the pocket where it hurts them most - and ignoring the evidence that their actions will have no significant impact on reducing crime."

Meanwhile, ACT said it welcomed the crackdown on gangs - and the introduction of ACT's policies to do it.

"After five years of Labour cuddling criminals and ignoring victims, it's time for gangs to see consequences for their actions," said ACT justice spokesperson Todd Stephenson.

"ACT believes protecting the safety and property of New Zealanders is the Government's first and most important job. We welcome policies that restore balance to a system that has become too focussed on criminals instead of victims."