Prohibition of Gang Insignia Act “Dangerous legislation”

Published: Thu 8 Aug 2013 04:02 PM
Media Release: Prohibition of Gang Insignia Act “Dangerous legislation” - Rethinking
Prohibition of Gang Insignia Act “Dangerous legislation” - Rethinking
“The ‘Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises’ Act is a dangerous piece of legislation, that is very likely to cause more harm than it prevents.  There is a real danger in passing into legislation a Private Member’s Bill, in the absence of any evidence-based research, or surrounding policy logic” said Kim Workman, Spokesperson for Rethinking Crime and Punishment.
The Maxim Institute, a conservative policy Thinktank, put its finger on the real issue when it said,
….in the end, we should remember, that gang members are gang members not only because of their own choices (for which they are of course responsible) but because of the weakness of family and community bonds which mean that security, belonging and purpose cannot be found anywhere else. If we are serious about change, we should start there.
In our view, 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.  In addition, it is likely to obstruct and impede the work of social service agencies in their commitment to the Reducing Crime and Reoffending Action Plan.
“There is a serious risk in implementing legislation with a heavy focus on enforcement and suppression, in the absence of a well-developed and balanced approach to gang management.”
Kim Workman

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