New Zealand’s foremost expert on gangs in New Zealand, University of Canterbury sociology lecturer Dr Jarrod Gilbert, will give a public lecture at UC next week about his experiences with gangs.
Dr Gilbert has spent 10 years studying the history of gangs in New Zealand and will talk about gang culture, gang law, his scrapes with gang members and the future of gangs. See here for details: http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/wiw/
Gangs have been at the forefront of violence and drug dealing in New Zealand for decades and Dr Gilbert’s best seller book about gangs, Patched: the History of gangs in New Zealand, sold out of stock in less than a week.
The book is now a finalist for a New Zealand book of the year award. No one who makes a comment about gangs in this country can now claim to be informed about the matter without having read Dr Gilbert’s book.
Dr Gilbert says gangs are attractive to young rebellious people who feel they have little chance of gaining status through conventional means.
``Gangs will always endure but there is a tremendous amount of myth that surrounds gangs. They are analogous to sharks. Most people are scared as hell of them but very few will ever actually be harmed by them. Nevertheless, as we all know, they have perpetuated some horrifying crimes in this country.
``Gangs are a major focus for police, but I argue that the police paint an extremely distorted view of the gangs. This is an extremely controversial finding, but the book allows me the room to take people through all of the evidence from which I've gained that view.
``I was privileged enough to have the gangs open their doors to me in a way no other researcher ever has. It took a long time and it wasn't easy but the book reflects the access that I gained.’’
One of New Zealand’s leading criminologists, Professor Greg Newbold, says Dr Gilbert’s research involved him spending years getting to know certain key gang members and eventually being accepted by the gangs concerned.
``Jarrod spent large amounts of time on gang territory and socialising with gang members from well-known clubs. In doing so, Jarrod was given access to material and information never before accessed by any New Zealand researcher. Indeed his findings, in terms of depth, breadth and understanding, are unique in the history of gang research,’’ Professor Newbold says.