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Party law act and order proposal to ‘demand’ good behavior from gang members

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Politics

Law leader David Seymour has released a discussion paper on law and order policy with a focus on gangs. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Act Party wants to prevent certain gang members from exhibiting “bad behavior” and instead demand good behavior in a proposal that could violate the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”.

It is part of a series of law and order proposals released by the party today, including a check on gang members’ benefits to prevent them from gambling or buying alcohol or tobacco.

Act also wants the number of police officers to grow with the population growth.

“We are announcing a series of policies to make New Zealanders safer in their communities,” said law leader David Seymour.

“We would introduce gang warrants, take politics out of policing, put benefactors receiving benefits on electronically controlled expenses, and remove the target to reduce the prison population.”

The centerpiece of today’s announcement is a gang injunction issued by a court following a police petition against a person on the national gang list.

The police should have a reasonable belief that the person posed a particular risk of committing gang-related violence or drug trafficking.

“The court order could then be used to prohibit bad behavior, such as being in a certain location or dealing with certain people,” said Justice Department spokeswoman Nicole McKee.

“It can also be used to require positive actions, such as attending rehab.”

Seymour said the presumption of innocence can be stripped if it was reasonable to do so.

A 2017 review of the use of such injunctions in Merseyside, the UK, found that individual offenses have fallen by 70 percent in the three years since their gang bans.

“Comparisons between gangs with injunctions and gangs without showed downward crime trends in the prohibition gangs that were not observed in the comparisons over the same time periods, but regression to the mean could not be ruled out as an explanation for the findings,” the review said.

Warrants have also been used in Los Angeles, but have been criticized for being used by the LA Police Department to profile communities of color. Their use in the general areas of the city has been successfully challenged by the courts as unconstitutional, and should instead be used against individuals.

To curb gun violence, the government has proposed firearms bans to prevent high-risk people — not just gangs — from accessing, being around, or using firearms.

A person would have to specifically commit a crime, go through legal proceedings and qualify under the FPO terms.

The government partly blames the deportation of 501 people from Australia on the rise in gang numbers, which have risen 50 percent since Labor took office and currently number about 8,000.

Seymour also wanted the number of troopers per capita – currently 200 for every 100,000 New Zealanders – to be maintained and to abolish the government’s target of reducing the prison population by 30 percent by 2032.

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