from Christopher Luxon
Yesterday I announced another National Party policy to tackle gangs.
National will make membership of a gang an aggravating factor when it comes to sentencing, so gang members convicted of an offence face tougher consequences for their crimes.
Gangs have been an unwelcome part of New Zealand’s criminal landscape for decades, but under this Labour government, their numbers and the level of violence they perpetrate have seen a significant and alarming rise.
Just this week we have seen gang members effectively take control of the town of Ōpōtiki, forcing schools to close and bus services to be cancelled. This is unacceptable.
Since Labour assumed power in 2017, New Zealand has witnessed a staggering 66 per cent increase in gang membership, amounting to over 3,500 new members. Alarmingly, gangs are now recruiting around twice as fast as the police.
National believes the visible presence of gangs in communities can lead to prolonged fear and intimidation for victims who have suffered at the hands of gang-related offences.
By making gang membership an aggravating factor, judges will be required to consider this when determining a sentence. In practice, it means offenders who are known members of criminal gangs will likely face tougher sentences for crime.
National’s message is clear: If you choose to align yourself with a criminal gang and engage in criminal activities, you will face more severe consequences.
This is another initiative that will help restore law & order to New Zealand, along with a range of solutions National has already announced, including:
- Banning gang patches in public places.
- Allowing police to issue dispersal notices where gang members come together in public to intimidate, threaten, and sometimes assault members of the public.
- Giving police non-association powers to prevent gang members from communicating and planning criminal activity.
- Giving police the warrantless search powers they need to take the guns out of the hands of violent armed gang members, which has contributed to the worst gun violence seen in New Zealand.
- Cracking down on serious youth offenders by creating young offender military academies.
Only National has a plan to make New Zealanders feel safe in their own communities. National is the party of law and order.
We’ve previously expressed disquiet about the blanket approach, as some motorcycle clubs are OK and shouldn’t be treated as criminal gangs. It needs to be decided on a case by case basis. —Eds