Gangs under Government spotlight

The government has announced two initiatives aimed at reducing illegal gang activities and the long-term cost to the taxpayer of gang members and their children.

Minister of Police, Judith Collins says New Zealand’s first multi-agency Gang Intelligence Centre is now operational and collecting intelligence on gang activity, "The Gang Intelligence Centre is one of the four initiatives in the Government’s Gang Action Plan. It provides an intelligence-led response to gangs, bringing together information held by Social Development, Customs, Corrections, Internal Affairs, Immigration and Police.”

The initiative is part of the government's Gang Action Plan. Collins says, "That information is being used in two ways – to disrupt and dismantle illegal gang activities and to identify and offer support to the members and associates who want out, both for themselves, and for their children.”

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has also announced community pilot programmes aimed at supporting the partners and children of gang members to lead successful lives, and to help steer young people away from gang life.

Tolley says the announcements are timely given the release of a report which estimates that the long-term cost to the taxpayer of gang members and their children through their contact with MSD and CYF is $714 million.

“Gang life ruins families, and the social cost through domestic violence and child abuse is unacceptable,” says Tolley. “At the same time, the taxpayer is having to foot a massive bill, through benefit payments and child protection.“

Our reporter Ripeka Timutimu will have more on Te Kāea at 5:30pm tonight.