New report and government initiatives to address gangs

Image: iStock

The Government has published a new report and announced two initiatives addressing gangs.

The report, Adult gang members and their children's contact with Ministry of Social Development service lines, provides information about gang members’ involvement with Work and Income and Child, Youth and Family.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Over a quarter of known gang members (3,960), were recorded by Child, Youth and Family as being the alleged perpetrators of abuse or neglect of children.
  • 60% of children of gang members known to Child, Youth and Family had been abused or neglected.
  • Almost half of the serious offences committed by gang members are family violence-related.

Social Development Minister, Anne Tolley, said “Gang life ruins families, and the social cost through domestic violence and child abuse is unacceptable.”

The government also announced the launch of the Gang Intelligence Centre (GIC) and Start at Home. These initiatives are part of the Government’s Gang Action Plan, announced in 2014.

The GIC will collect data from a number of government agencies. Police Minister Judith Collins said “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.”

The GIC will create gang member family trees (see an example from Police) to better understand criminal histories and opportunities to intervene to support family members.

The Start at Home initiative launches two community pilot programmes designed to support partners and children of gang members. Minister Tolley's media release said “The first two pilot programmes, in the Bay of Plenty and on the East Coast, will see MSD partnering with local social service providers to:

  • Deliver wrap-around intensive support services
  • Increase educational achievement and employment opportunities for gang-connected families, and
  • Focus on youth mentoring and positive role modelling

Total funding for the two trials is $1.1 million over two and a half years, with more initiatives in other regions to follow soon.”

A number of agencies, political parties and community members have commented on the announcements - see the media coverage below.

Relevant research

For recent research on gangs, intimate partner violence and sexual violence see:

Ulloa, EC et al. (2012). Inter-partner violence in the context of gangs: a review, Aggression and Violent Behavior, 17(5): 397-404. 

Simon, T et al. (2013). Changing course: Preventing gang membership, Office of Justice Programmes, National Institute of Justice, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (USA).

In 2015, Superu published What works: Improving outcomes for children of gang-involved parents.

Earlier research, including New Zealand research, is available by doing a search on 'gangs' in the Clearinghouse library.

Media

Fighting for a different future, Radio NZ, 31.03.2017
Feature story based on interviews with gang members about their aspirations and struggles, including work done with E Tū Whānau.

Race a huge factor in how we treat crime, Opinion: Rosemary McLeod, Dominion Post, 10.03.2016

Gang plan could harm some whanau - Marama Fox, Radio NZ, 02.03.2016

Politicians oppose new gang action plan, Māori Television, 02.03.216

Government's gang crackdown - will it work? Radio NZ, 02.03.2016

Breaking the gang cycle, Gisborne Herald, 02.03.2016

Judith Collins has a message for gangs, NZCity, 02.03.2016

Party leaders wade into gang debate, Newstalk ZB, 02.03.2016

Getting tough on the gangs, Sunlive, 02.03.2016

Gang findings in MSD report, Newshub, 02.03.2016

Opinion: Rachel Smalley: No quick fix for gang culture, Newstalk ZB, 02.03.2016

Willy McGregor: Why people join gangs, Newstalk ZB, 02.03.2016

Call to ban gangs from state houses, Sunlive, 02.03.2016

Trust Back’s Call to Throw Gangs Out of State Housing, Press Release: Sensible Sentencing Trust, 02.03.2016

Govt support for gang families 'can only be good' - ex-gang member, One News, 02.03.2016

Ex-gang member compares Collins to Trump over gang crackdown plans, One News, 02.03.2016

Ex-Mongrel Mob chief Willy McGregor: Why people join gangs, NZ Herald, 02.03.2016

Government pushing ahead with gangs crackdown, Radio NZ, 02.03.2016

Gangs want in on Govt policy, Māori Television, 01.03.2016

New Gang Intelligence Centre will reduce gang harm, Voxy, 01.03.2016

Tolley tackles the cost of gangs, Sunlive, 01.03.2016

Gangs under Government spotlight, Māori Television, 01.03.2016

Governments 'pussy-footing around gangs', NZCity, 01.03.2016

Govt continues fight against NZ's gang culture, Newstalk ZB, 01.03.2016

Gangs want in on Govt policy , Maori Television, 01.03.2016

Govt push to stop cycle of gang life, Radio NZ, 01.03.2016

Families to be monitored in gang crackdown, Newshub, 01.03.2016

Gangs teaming up to sell meth to Auckland's rich kids, One News, 01.03.2016

'Gang life ruins families and the social cost is unacceptable', One News, 01.03.2016

Gang members on benefits, children abused, Waikato Times, 01.03.2016

Gangs cost $714m in welfare, report reveals, as new intelligence centre launched, Stuff, 01.03.2016

'He hit me so hard my jaw was dislocated', Waikato Times, 01.03.2016

Breaking the gang-life cycle in the Bay, Bay of Plenty Times, 01.03.2016

Govt moves to limit $700m cost to support gang members and their dependants, NZ Herald, 01.03.2016