Darroch Ball
Co-Leader Sensible Sentencing Trust.

Over recent months there has been a massive increase in police shootings, gang violence, and innocent members of the public being caught in danger caused by gangs.

Every week we are writing to you, posting on social media, and putting out press releases not only with commentary about the gangs but warning that what we are witnessing is going to get worse.  I remember distinctly writing about gang tensions getting worse in a press release back in January and calling for the need to permanently arm police – which not surprisingly media ignored.  It seems more relevant now than ever.

For more than six months we have been stating that more police shootings will occur, that more and more innocent members of the public will be put in danger, and that gang growth and tensions will continue to run amok.  And there are a couple of main reasons why it has become worse – and will continue to get worse:

  1. The Labour Government continue to have a default starting point for any gang issue that “gangs are part of the solution” instead of “gangs are the problem” – funding of Mongrel Mob drug rehab programmes, koha given at a gang-pad hui attended by Ministers and senior civil servants.
  2. Lower-level crime that act as funding and recruitment pathways to gangs are being either ignored or offenders not properly being held to account – youth violence and armed robberies, drug dealing of methamphetamine and marijuana.
  3. The main goal of the justice system under Labour is not to reduce reoffending, deliver justice, hold people to account, or make the community a safer place – it is solely to reduce the prison population.
  4. Police are undermanned, under resourced, and ill-equipped to handle the rising threat levels they deal with on the streets now every day – they need to be armed, they need more frontline police, they need resources to focus on combating gangs.
  5. Worst of all gangs are glamourised, normalised, and legitimised by the way the government and media portray them as ‘loveable reformed chaps who hand out sandwiches to homeless people’.

It seems ridiculous that we have to identify the most basic issues that are the main contributors to our gang problems in this country.  We can’t just blame the Australian deportee 501’s – although they are causing issues.  We have to come to terms with the fact that all gangs – including our indigenous ones – are created, run, and are built on anti-authority and anti-social foundations – and all run by crime, violence, intimidation, and drugs. 

Good on a few individuals who seem to have had a ‘come-to-Jesus’ moment – like the Waikato Mob keep claiming.  But they can’t seriously suggest that we accept for one second that all gangs are just misunderstood and that we should start trusting their pure intentions now.  Which, laughably, they keep saying even after some senior members of their chapter got busted for drugs and firearms.  If they really think they are ‘reformed gangsters’ then perhaps they shouldn’t be wearing a patch that is literally designed to identify them as being part of a group that doesn’t give two fifths about society or the law. 

Until the government, of whatever political hue, begins addressing the gang conversation with “gangs are not welcome” – this is just going to get worse. 

Crush ’em. Photoshopped image credit Boondecker. The BFD

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Gangs Are the Problem, Not the Solution
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