Police Association president Chris Cahill says officers supportive of Government's gang crackdown

The Police Association president says officers are supportive of the Government's new crackdown on gangs.

Chris Cahill said police have seen the harm gangs are doing and want to be able to "get into them".

His comments come after the Coalition Government announced it 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.

Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith and Police Minister Mark Mitchell made the announcement on Sunday morning. Goldsmith said over the last five years, gangs have recruited more than 3000 members, which is a 51 percent increase. 

The increase is alongside an escalation in gang-related violence, public intimidation and shootings, with violent crime up 33 percent.

It didn't take the Opposition long to hit out at the policy, critiquing the Government later on Sunday for using police resources to "chase down people for wearing jackets, bandanas, hats, even jewellery like rings".

Labour's Police spokesperson Ginny Andersen said the Government needs to back police with resourcing.

"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.

Appearing on AM on Monday, Police Association president Chris Cahill said the new law will increase pressure on frontline officers, but added there is a need to reduce some of the demand in non-traditional police areas.

"Overall, most police officers will be supportive of the idea of getting tougher on gangs. They've seen them grow, they've seen the harm they're causing and they want to be able to get into them," Cahill told AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green.

National was vocal during the election campaign about its pledge to crack down on organised crime, which included banning gang patches in public. In response, gangs suggested they would tattoo insignia on their faces to try and get around the ban.

Mitchell told AM later in the programme that the law won't extend to gang colours and applies to gangs on the national gang list.

"They think they're above the law, they think they can do what they like and they indicated that they would defeat this policy by having their gang insignia on their faces with tattoos," Mitchell said.

"If they do then we'll have a response to it… All it does is reinforce for us that they are trying to use that gang insignia to try and intimidate members of the public and that's exactly what they do."

Those caught breaking the rule could face a fine of $5000 or up to six months imprisonment.

The law has similarities to controversial legislation passed in Western Australia that targeted outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Mitchell said the feedback he has had from the Western Australian legislation is that it has been "very effective" in breaking up the gangs.

However, applying the law to New Zealand's gang environment becomes more challenging, he said. 

"When you're talking about things like the Mongrel Mob and Black Power, who have been embedded in communities for decades, that becomes a lot trickier," Cahill said.

He said provincial policing in particular is going to have to work through how to implement the law in those areas.