Sunday, 8 May 2022

Government’s spin on gang numbers exposed


“The Government has been in overdrive for the past 18-months, desperately trying to take people off the National Gang List after letting it balloon when it came into Government,” says ACT’s Police spokesperson Chris Baillie.

“Whenever ACT or the media has questioned the Government on the rising number of people on the National Gangs List, it claims "it's easy to get on the list but it's very hard to get off".

“However, Written Parliamentary Questions show that the Police have been in overdrive trying to get people off the list, with 565 removed this year alone. Last year 1074 people were removed from the list, more than the previous three years combined.

“This makes a mockery of the Police Commissioner’s claim “it’s easy to get on the list [but] it’s very hard to get off.” Or the Minister’s claim that the list doesn’t account for gang members who quit.

“Nobody believes the number of gang members is decreasing.

“Since Labour came into Government around 1000 gang members have been added each year. The number of gang members has increased from 5,343 to 7,691.

“The Government is scrambling to remove as many names as it can so it can’t be used as a yardstick for how useless it’s been at keeping New Zealanders safe. The Government needs to accept that it’s overseen a gang epidemic.

“The real reason the Government has been trying to discredit the list is because it shows how bad it’s let the situation get, with almost twice as many names added to the list since 2017 than those that have been removed.

“You only have to look at the news headlines to see how out of control the gang problem is. We’ve seen motorways shut down in Auckland and shootings in the Wellington CBD. Things are out of control and people will get hurt.

“The Police Minister needs to explain why so many people have come off the list. Has the criteria changed? Are these people genuinely reformed from the thug life? Or is she trying to save face?

“ACT has proposed Gang Control Orders which would allow Police to apply to the courts for an injunction against an individual on the National Gang List. It increases the power of police to seize assets connected with gang activity and illegal firearms owned by gang members by introducing a new threshold for Police to seize assets.

“If we don’t stand up to the gangs now, it’s only a matter of time before an innocent member of the public gets caught in the crossfire.”

The Written Parliamentary Questions can be found here and here