Page One: Gangs, Ram Raids, Random Attacks – Is Crime Really On The Rise?

Prolonged criticism of its approach to crime led the government to introduce new legislation targeting gangs.

Rules released by Police Minister Chris Hipkins and Justice Minister Kiri Allan this week will increase police power by expanding the range of offenses where police can seize vehicles, allowing the seizure of money found in suspicious circumstances and increasing search powers to find and seize weapons from gang members.

On top of that, the government has also announced that discharging a firearm with the intent to intimidate will now result in a prison sentence of up to five years – a decision taken in direct response to the recent spate of shootings by car.

So, will any of these new laws actually make a difference to the current surge in gang violence we’ve seen?

It depends on who you ask, Herald investigative reporter Jared Savage told the Front Page podcast.

National and the Greens have both criticized the new legislation, but they have different views.

While National has called for stronger action like we are seeing in Australia, the Greens have expressed concern about the search powers that would be granted under the new proposals.

“Nothing is black and white,” Savage says.

“They’re all a little right and they’re all a little wrong…Crime is a very complicated and complex problem that runs through our society. It will never be solved with just one announcement.”

Savage says tackling crime always requires a balance between addressing current violent actions and ensuring we address the long-term societal issues that push communities toward gang life.

“We need to invest in poorer communities that don’t have as many opportunities, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get tough on crime and give the police more tools to do their job properly,” Savage said.

“It’s good to have these conversations about what we can do now to overcome this, but also what we can do over the next 20, 30 or 40 years to address the inequalities that we have in our country. “

Savage says these measures focus on overt response to crime, which involves visible police action on the streets.

“The New Zealand Police have always been very good at secret policing, which includes undercover work and tapping phones,” says Savage.

“They’re doing a great job of that. But these measures this week are much more about overt presence, which focuses on gang members who might intimidate members of the public.”

What these measures will not be able to do is sever the high level connections that have led to increased drug smuggling in New Zealand.

Earlier this month, two Waikato men were sentenced to prison for their involvement in a plot to smuggle 500 kilograms of methamphetamine and 625 kg of cocaine into New Zealand by sea.

“We have seen a massive increase in drug trafficking in recent years. Twenty years ago when methamphetamine arrived in the country, the police were celebrating the discovery of a kilogram. It was a huge explosion at the era. Now we see 200 kg, 400 kg, 500 kg of busts, seemingly with no end in sight.”

Savage says short-term measures like these simply won’t do anything to stop the structures moving in this amount of contraband.

“The changes announced this week probably don’t really solve this problem. These cases require long-term secret policing, which can take months or even years to materialize. This week’s changes will not help slow the process. transnational, organized crime groups in Southeast Asia, Europe and Mexico.”

The Front Page is a daily news podcast from the New Zealand Herald, available to listen to every weekday from 5am.

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