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New Gang Intelligence Centre will reduce gang harm

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Zealand’s first multi-agency Gang Intelligence Centre is now operational and collecting intelligence on gang activity, says Police Minister Judith Collins.

"The Gang Intelligence Centre is one of the four initiatives in the Government’s Gang Action Plan. It provides an intelligence-led response to gangs, bringing together information held by Social Development, Customs, Corrections, Internal Affairs, Immigration and Police.

"That information is being used in two ways - to disrupt and dismantle illegal gang activities and to identify and offer support to the members and associates who want out, both for themselves, and for their children.

"One initial piece of work has been case studies of gang-affiliated families. This work has shown that gang members are disproportionately victims of family violence and other violent crimes themselves, and that this is being repeated through the generations at significant cost to social services.

"The Gang Intelligence Centre is piecing together gang member family trees and identifying criminal histories and family links in ways not seen before.

"The wider social costs of gang crime has been highlighted today by Social Development Minister Anne Tolley with the release of a report which estimates the long term cost to the taxpayer of gang members and their children through contact with MSD and CYF alone is around $714 million.

"Gang members are also disproportionately responsible for serious criminal offending and drug crime.

"More than 30 percent of the total prison population are affiliated with a gang and the proportion of prisoners identified as gang members has been steadily increasing.

"Gang offenders re-offend at twice the rate of non-gang offenders, and with increasing seriousness. They are disproportionately represented in prison violence with close to half of all individual perpetrators of prison incidents identifying with a gang," Ms Collins says.

Along with the Gang Intelligence Centre, the Gang Action Plan includes three other significant pieces of work.

1. Start at Home: a programme to refocus existing social initiatives, and develop new programmes, to address the intergenerational nature of gang life.

2. Multi-agency taskforces will target drug trafficking networks, including disrupting new gangs attempting to enter New Zealand, and restricting and monitoring international gang travel. In 2015 taskforces contributed to the recovery of over 334 kg of methamphetamine with a street value of $334 million.

A second taskforce is charged with strengthening asset recovery efforts, preventing financing of crime and targeting profits received from crime. Since August 2014, groups linked to organised crime have forfeited almost $14 million worth of assets and profits derived from crime.

3. Strengthening legislation including

The Electronic Monitoring of Offenders Legislation Bill will allow courts to stipulate 24-hour GPS monitoring on high-risk offenders (such as gang members) following release from a prison sentence of two years or less, where court conditions limit where the offender is allowed to go. It will mean that where gang members are prevented from going to gang headquarters or other places where gangs congregate following release, those restrictions can be enforced through GPS monitoring.

Interim freezing orders (cash): amendments to the money laundering offence in the Crimes Act 1961 (progressed through the Organised Crime and Anti-corruption Legislation Bill) came into force in 2015. These amendments would clarify the position for Police and address some of the difficulties Police faced in seizing cash found in suspicious circumstances.

Firearm Prohibition Orders: the development of a regime is well advanced. Firearm Prohibition Orders restrict the access of certain individuals to firearms.

Drug detector dogs: The Minister of Police has considered preliminary advice on a proposal to deploy drug detector dogs at domestic ports.

Additional information:

Gang Family Example: a fictional example of the kind of intelligence the Gang Intelligence Centre is beginning to generate. It shows a small part of the family tree of one family, which has links to gangs, and multiple interactions with government agencies. Although this example is entirely fictional, it does reflect Gang Intelligence Centre research into real gang-related families.

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