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Police to establish gang units nationwide

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Staff Reporter

14 May 2024, 1:08 AM

Police to establish gang units nationwidePolice Commissioner unveils nationwide strategy

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster has announced plans to establish national and frontline units to address gang-related crime and intimidation.

"Gang members are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime and harm in New Zealand, particularly in serious assault, robberies, drug and firearms offences, and homicides," stated Commissioner Coster.

The initiative aims to build on existing efforts to combat gang activity, including targeted operations, organised crime investigations, and Offender Prevention Teams.

A new National Gang Unit will be created to collaborate with Police districts across the country, drawing on successful strategies such as Operation Cobalt.

This unit will support district-based staff in planning and coordinating enforcement activities to disrupt gang-related crime and intimidation.

Incoming legislation will provide Police with additional tools to address gang-related harm and enhance community safety.

The National Gang Unit will play a key role in enforcing this legislation, ensuring effective responses to gang activity.

Additionally, new Gang Disruption Units will be established at the district level to identify, target, and apprehend priority offenders, maintaining a focused approach to tackling gang issues.

Today's announcement marks the beginning of the process to establish these frontline Gang Disruption Units.

Resource allocations will be determined in consultation with District Commanders, incorporating both reprioritised funding and new investments.

Commissioner Coster emphasised that policing gangs and serious offenders is a top priority for the entire Police force.

While the new gang units will enhance capability, all frontline officers will continue to engage in various activities aimed at preventing crime and harm.

Acknowledging New Zealand's reputation as one of the safest countries to live, Commissioner Coster highlighted the evolving gang landscape and the Police's commitment to adapt to emerging challenges.

"Ultimately, our goal is to support the frontline in keeping everyone safe and delivering the best outcomes for our communities," said Commissioner Coster.

Implementation of the National Gang Unit is currently underway, with plans to continue the work of Operation Cobalt under this new framework.