August 08, 2013
Warning patch grab could backfire
Advocacy group Rethinking Crime and Justice is warning that a new law prohibiting the wearing of gang patches is likely to cause more harm than it prevents.
The private members bill sponsored by National MPs Todd McClay and Mark Mitchell passed with the votes of National, Act, New Zealand First and Independent MPs Peter Dunne and Brendan Horan.
It means if members of 34 named gangs wear insignia in a school, public hospital or other government property, they can be arrested and fined and their patch destroyed.
Rethinking spokesperson Kim Workman says there is no evidence-based research backing the move.
He says the legislation is based on an inaccurate stereotype about the nature of Māori gangs, their kinship structures, level of criminality, the purpose of the patch, and the association between gang insignia and criminal behaviour.
The response of gang members to the provisions of the Act is likely to increase criminal behaviour rather than reduce it; and has the potential to increase the level of intimidation by gang members of public servants.
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