Gang patch ban: Only 17 fines handed out to gang members breaching patch ban laws since 2016

Newshub can reveal that over the past eight years just 17 fines have been handed out under laws that ban gang patches in government buildings.   

Whether a red bulldog, a fist or a flaming skull, gang patches are banned in Government buildings like schools and hospitals.  

Legislation passed in 2013 was intended to limit gang intimidation and give police powers to seize patches.  

Police can't say how many patches have been taken from gangsters as they don't record that in one place, but Newshub can reveal that since 2016, just 108 offences have been recorded by police under this law.  

In 62 cases, Police identified an offender and took action against them, like a warning, youth referral or prosecution. Thirty-eight were arrested.  

From just 44 prosecutions, only 17 resulted in a fine from a judge.  

"We have sent a very clear message that we didn't want gang patches in hospitals and schools. That message has got through. But police have got that option to prosecute," said Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith.  

Police say only a small portion of breaches actually get referred to police. Security at these government buildings may deal with any offenders directly. If police do get involved, they'll consider the public interest and evidence when deciding whether to prosecute.  

"Talking to the City Mission here in Wellington, when those workers have asked gang members to remove their patches before they come into the City Mission lounge, they listen to that. That's because gang members are human beings," said Greens' justice spokesperson Tamatha Paul.  

The Government's now going further than the current law, planning to ban gang patches in all public areas, which the minister believes police can effectively enforce.  

"The public are sick of the intimidation that comes with those gang patches," said Goldsmith.  

Paul said: "Going in there hot and getting under-resourced police officers to do a job they are not equipped to do is going to put so many of our police officers at risk."  

Gang expert Jarrod Gilbert says it also doesn't get to the crux of the issue.  

"Banning gang insignia is not going to impact on crime rates," he said. "You've got to see that there's a performance angle to this, it really is politics over policy, but nevertheless it will prove to be incredibly popular."