Gangs not 'patched over' in city say police

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2014
Bandidos
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GANG-HO: The Bandidos have patched over Christchurch gang Rock Machine to form a new probationary chapter.

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The Bandidos Motorcycle Club has not "patched over" another gang in Invercargill, police say.

It was more likely they had recruited members without gang affiliation.

At the weekend, police said the Bandidos held a "patching-over ceremony", at which gang members rid themselves of previous patches, often burning them, before taking on the new patch.

However, the region's organised crime squad boss says that was no longer believed to be the case.

Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis said police understood the Bandidos had not swallowed up an existing gang but were recruiting "other people".

The police view is backed up by a gang expert.

Leading New Zealand gang researcher and University of Canterbury sociology lecturer Jarrod Gilbert said he would be surprised if the Bandidos had "patched over" an existing gang in Invercargill.

None of Invercargill's gang members would be likely to strip off their patches for the "Fat Mexican" patch of the Bandidos, Dr Gilbert said. It was more probable they had recruited riders without patches or people who may be disillusioned with their former gang.

He doubted that the Road Knights would have surrendered their patches to the Bandidos. "The Road Knights have such a strong history in Invercargill. They own their own club house and property and have fought many battles to to keep hold of their own turf."

There was "no chance" the Bandidos had patched over Black Power or Mongrel Mob members but the arrival of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club could lead to a rise in tensions between bike gangs in Invercargill and possibly gang warfare, he said.

The gang scene in New Zealand had been on a steady decline for more than a decade but was now experiencing an obvious expansion. "While New Zealand has been remarkably peaceful in recent times, the prospect of gang wars is significantly increasing and I believe is inevitable."

Invercargill had a long history of outlaw clubs and violence associated with rival gangs, Dr Gilbert said.

Mr Inglis said police were aware gangs did involve themselves with violence but there had been other gang movement in New Zealand, including the arrival of the Rebels Motorcycle Club - established in Australia 40 years ago and one of the largest outlaw motorcycle clubs in Australia - and there had not been an outbreak of violence.

People who become involved in these kinds of groups needed to know they would come to police attention, he said.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said it was a concern to have another gang known for criminal activities in the city.

But there was not a lot "a little council" could do about it.

"We have been stripped of our powers to deal with social, community and economic issues where maybe we could do something," Mr Shadbolt said.

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