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The Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill is “no silver bullet”, but will at least begin to attach consequences to a decision to join a gang, according to Police Association President Greg O’Connor.
The Bill, which passed its third reading in Parliament today, allows the Wanganui District Council to ban gang insignia such as patches from designated public places.
“For too long, gang members have been able to strut and intimidate without any fear of consequence,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The intimidation is deliberate, and directly connected to the gang’s power as a criminal organisation. Sadly, the fear and power gang members command in many communities also makes them role models for young people and perpetuates the attraction of a criminal gang lifestyle.
“This new law won’t drive gangs from our midst, but it will begin to curtail the strutting and intimidation. Importantly, for the first time it will also begin to attach some negative consequences to the decision to join a gang. It will make gang membership less comfortable and less attractive.”
Mr O’Connor noted that the new measures will only apply in Wanganui.
“Nationwide action is always preferable, but this should at least provide a proving ground. Hopefully, these measures will in time be adopted into a more comprehensive, nationally coordinated anti-gang strategy,” Mr O’Connor said.