Nats reveal crime crackdown measures

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 17:25 04/08/2014

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Drug dogs could be stationed at domestic airports and ferry terminals, as National moves to crack down on gang crime.

Police and Corrections minister Anne Tolley today outlined a package of measures designed to cut violent crime.

Police say gang members are responsible for 25 per cent of murder charges and a third of serious drug offences. 

The move includes 24 hour GPS monitoring for high-risk affiliates on release from prison. This would prevent them from returning to gang headquarters or other hang-outs.

New Firearm Prohibition Orders would stop serious gang offenders buying weapons - and penalise those who knowingly supply them.

A $1.6m Gang Intelligence Centre would increase spying on gangs and their associates. It will also identify relatives and child at risk from abuse or becoming prospects. The multi-agency centre, planned for December 2015, will be led by police.

Two taskforces will target drug trafficking by motorcycle gangs. One has a brief to disrupt new gangs trying to enter - and restrict travel for domestic members. A criminal asset task force will prevent financing of crime and seize profits.

Tolley reveal Police and the Justice Ministry will investigate a pilot of drug detector dogs at key domestic ports and air terminals. Although most precursors come from China, the Government says there is a flow between the North and South islands.

As well as a crime crack down, National also want to offer wrap around services to get people out of the inter-generational gang lifestyle. ''Start at Home'' initiatives will include enhance rehabilitation programmes for prisoners, as well as boost access to addiction services, housing, and employment opportunities.

These could be offered ''in new locations away from gang life.''

Women with gang connections will also be offered ''safety planning' if they are at risk of abuse on release from prison. 

''Gangs don't need to be a fact of life in New Zealand. They are criminal organisations and inflict serious harm on anyone who comes into contact with them,'' Tolley said. 

Prime Minister John Key denied the law and order package was timed to be announced as the election campaign got under way, and has been under development for eight to 12 months.

Gangs are at the forefront of the manufacture and distribution of drugs, he said. ''There's no question that gangs are very sophisticated these days,'' Key said. 'They've moved beyond ''having punch-ups on a Saturday night'' because it's bad for business.

Figures provided by Tolley show gang members re-offend at twice the rate of those not in gangs. The number of members in prison has increased in the last eight years from 15 to 12 per cent.

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One gang family, over three generations, costs the taxpayer $5 million in justice and welfare costs, and accumulates more than 400 victims, police research shows.

The ''whole of Government plan'' would encompass police, Corrections, Justice, the Ministry of Social Development, Education and Health ministries. Te Puni Kokiri, Housing NZ, IRD and Customs.

Implementation of the package, which has been signed off by Cabinet, will depend on the outcome of the general election. 

- Stuff

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