Criminal Bar Association – Media Statement – Gang Proposals


We need evidence-based justice policy that keeps our communities safe, while upholding a fair system of justice. The Government’s proposed new ban on gang insignia does neither of those things.

“Banning gang insignia is a repeat policy that has already failed to prevent crime or keep communities safe.” says acting President of the New Zealand Criminal Bar Association, Annabel Cresswell.

“We know that criminalising people by association is not only a breach of the NZ Bill of Rights Act, but a policy that will largely target Māori, Pasifika and our poorer communities, without addressing the causes of crime or making us safer.

“It is disappointing to see the Government oversimplify justice issues and ignore the evidence we already have about what would prevent crime.

“Our system of justice should uphold fairness, protect rights, and keep our communities safe based on evidence of crime prevention.

“In particular as a response to youth offending, justice policies should seek to prevent recidivism and keep our young people out of gangs, rather than to stigmatise them further. We know young people who offend or are most likely to join gangs, are those from a background of abuse or neglect, often from within the state care system, with addiction issues, or learning disability.

“Instead of focusing on failed punitive measures, the Government could resource interventions that support young people to thrive, through rehabilitative measures, mental health support, accessible addiction treatment, and pathways back to inclusive education.” Says Annabel Cresswell.


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