Crime Watch: New Zealand Law Prohibits Wearing of Gang Colours, Patches in Public Places

By @reissasu on

A new bill in New Zealand will target gang members wearing patches or official insignia in public places like swimming pools and schools.  Those who are found to be wearing gang patches will risk arrest or fines.   The bill seeks to finally stamp out cases of gang intimidation.

The private member's bill banning gang members to wear patches in places owned by the government or the Crown will be passed into law on the evening of Aug 7.  Police will have the power to arrest violators of the new law and confiscate their insignia. 

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A new bill in New Zealand will target gang members wearing patches or official insignia in public places like swimming pools and schools. Those who are found to be wearing gang patches will risk arrest or fines. The bill seeks to finally stamp out cases of gang intimidation. Image credit: AP

National MP Mark Mitchell is the sponsor of the Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises Bill.  Mr Mitchell said he did not expect the tension to rise between police and gang members due to the new regulations. 

Mr Mitchell said the change in the laws would prevent gang-related crimes in public areas.  The workload of police responding to complaints about the presence of gang members in public places will also be reduced. 

Rotorua's National MP Todd McClay was the original sponsor of the bill.  Mr McClay proposed the bill in response to community protests against the rise of gangs in Murupara after a minor was murdered because he was wearing a school uniform having the same colour of a rival gang in the area. 

The proposed bill was welcomed by the Murupara Area School although the school district already banned gang colours because of the ongoing tension between members of the Mongrel Mob and Tribesmen in township of central North Island. 

Jacob Te Kurupa, chairman of the school's Board of Trustees, said he the zero tolerance policy of the school on gang patches has proven to be successful. People who wear found to wear gang patches were not allowed through the gates. 

The law change would also give the school principal another defence against the influence of gangs among the youth in New Zealand.

However, submitters of the new bill were concerned that the law would be too broad.  Police might arrest people who are unaware that they are wearing gang colours. 

The second reading of the gang patch bill was supported by United Future, National Act, New Zealand First and Brendan Horan. Those who were against the bill were Greens, Labour, Mana and Maori.  

Labour did not support the bill because members felt the bill failed to address the underlying causes of gang-related activities such as youth disillusionment, alienation and poverty.

The new law will be applied to the 34 gangs identified in the legislation.  The names of the gangs were listed to prevent them from changing their names slightly to get around the rules and help police identify gang members.  

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