Politics

Mongrel Mob spokesperson sees Government crackdown on gangs as 'PR stunt'

On Wednesday, Police Minister Chris Hipkins and Justice Minister Kiri Allan announced new measures to help to crack down on gang violence.

Proposed changes are targeting drive-bys, impounding vehicles, cash seizures and big bang cash transactions will be banned. 

Also, new warrant and search powers could mean more gang gun busts.

So, what do the gangs think of this announcement?

Spokesperson for the Waikato chapter of the Mongrel Mob, Louise Hutchinson, tells Tova the whole thing was a 'PR stunt by the ministers'. 

"What was released yesterday is purely politicking," she says.

"It's appeasing the middle New Zealand voter and it's not going to change anything on the ground."

Hutchinson says the image that's continually put out about gang members, being described as people who have 'bling', 'bikes', and 'boats', isn't the reality she sees. 

"These aren't the people that I work around," she says.

"These people are struggling to put food on the table, to clothe their children. 

"Not every gang member is a criminal and not every criminal is a gang member."

According to the Government's release, the changes are meant to hone in on 'criminal activities' and 'make communities safer'.

Tova O'Brien says the gang members Hutchinson works with should be unaffected by these laws if they aren't committing criminal activities. 

However, Hutchinson doesn't believe this will be the case - as all gang members, criminals or not, are 'profiled every day'. 

"They get in their car and they're harassed by cops every day," she tells O'Brien.

"Look at that young boy, Kaoss, that died in Taranaki - that Police officer is renowned for harassing gang members. 

"When are they going to announce a policy that the police are going to be armed with body cameras? 

"We've had two gang members shot and killed in the last, sort of, three months."

Listen to the full interview between Louise Hutchinson and Tova above.

You can also download the full interview on the Tova podcast, and listen on the go. Check it out on the rova app or wherever you get your podcasts.