Temporary law made permanent to crack down on gang activity
Emergency laws designed to crack down rapidly on crime will be made permanent after legislation was passed by senators yesterday.
In reading the Criminal Code Amendment Act 2022, Ernest Peets, the Government Senate Leader and spokesman for the Ministry of Legal Affairs, said the temporary provisions to the Criminal Code were introduced in 2012 when gang violence was escalating.
The provisions made it a crime to instruct someone "to participate in unlawful gang activity“ and increased sentences for offences where unlawful gang activity featured in the criminal activity.
They also enabled the courts to add between one and five years’ prison time for any crimes where it was shown that gang activity was included and to increase fines to as much as $10,000.
Ben Smith, the OBA Senate Leader, said he supported the Bill and hoped to see even more legislation aimed at curbing gang activity introduced in the future.
“The minister said there had been two occasions in the last ten years where they have been able to use this legislation,” Mr Smith said.
“We support any tool to support the courts to help us in this battle and we look forward to seeing more to prevent the next crime or young person being enticed into this lifestyle.”
Michelle Simmons, an independent senator and vice-president of the Senate, said it had been hoped that the original legislation would see a reduction in gang activity and recruitment.
Ms Simmons said: “Unfortunately we haven’t seen this. Gang activity has become part of our community and is impacting on everyone.
“The people most impacted are families. In my opinion, that is where the attention needs to be at the very beginning. Until we get it right within our families we will continue to see young people recruited into gangs.
“I don’t think that we have any choice but to support this Bill. I urge our families to take charge of their children.”