Several years ago Michael Laws delivered on a pledge to ban gang patches in Wanganui. The ban had an immediate effect for the better; unfortunately the Wanganui District Council drafted it too loosely, and it was overturned by the High Court. However the Council is currently working through the process of reinstaing the by-law, guided by the High Court decision.
But a more widespread ban on gang patches may not be too far away; Scoop reports:
Rotorua MP Todd McClay’s bill to ban gang insignia in Government premises drawn todayRotorua MP Todd McClay had his members bill drawn today to prohibit the display of gang insignia from all Central and Local Government buildings around New Zealand.“The bill introduces restrictions around gang insignia being displayed at places such as Government departments and council facilities, including Work and Income and Housing NZ offices, as well as the grounds of public schools and hospitals,” Mr McClay said.“Gangs serve no legitimate purpose in our society, and the public has a right to be protected from their intimidation.”“Gangs are commonly identified by their insignia, which is often worn as a badge of pride. What it really demonstrates, is a high probability that the wearer has committed crimes to earn the right to wear gang colours or insignia.
“Government departments and Crown Entities provide a valued service to members of the public, and staff and visitors deserve to feel safe in the work place or service they are visiting.“This law would result in arrest, a fine of up to $2000, and the destruction of the gang insignia.“Members of our community have told me they feel intimidated by gang members. This bill is modelled on the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Act 2009.“This bill is about putting the rights of the law abiding members of our country before those who seek to profit from the harm they cause.“I look forward to debating this bill in the House and hopefully through to select committee for public submissions,” Mr McClay said.Gang members would not be banned from visiting government departments or schools. They would merely be required to leave their gang patches at home.
We are delighted for Todd McClay that this Bill has been drawn from the Members' ballot. ASs regular readers will be aware, we abhor gangs, and everything associated with them, They serve no useful purpose in a civilised society.
The Wanganui legislation had an immediate and very positive effect. At the shopping centre from which we collect our mail each day, young gang members used to swagger up and down the footpath in their Black Power patches. But once patches were banned, they disappeared. There are a lot of elderly folk in the area, which has a medical centre and two chemist shops adjacent. Over time, foot traffic in the shopping centre increased markedly as people realised it was safe again.
And even when the patch ban was overturned by the High Court, the gangs didn't return. We reckon they'd got the message that Wanganui didn't want them.
So we applaud Todd McClay on taking this ban a step further. Staff in Government depratments and Crown entities have to put up with enough as it is with often drunk, drugged or abusive clients. Gang members know that their patches intimidate people, and that knowledge is power to them. If Mr McClay's Bill succeeds, some of that power is removed, and good show!
In addition, he's making sure that the scope of his Bill is well spelt out; read on:
1. Prohibit the display of gang insignia on premises of Departments of the Public Service and Crown Entities and Local authorities in New Zealand;2. Names specific gangs to be covered by the law;3. Be future proofed by allowing the Minister of Police to add gangs to the prohibited list through regulation setting powers;4. Cover all signs, symbols, or representations commonly displayed to denote membership of, an affiliation with, or support for a gang, not including tattoos, and includes any items of clothing to which a sign, symbol, or representation is affixed;5. Include all offices, buildings and facilities both permanent and temporary under the authority of Departments of the Public Service as defined in Schedule 1 of the State Sector Act 1988 and Crown Entities as defined in Schedule 1 of the Crown Entities Act 2004;6. Include the grounds of public schools and early childhood education facilities;7. Include the grounds of public hospitals and health facilities under the authority of District Health Boards;8. Exclude residential dwellings under the authority of the Housing New Zealand Corporation and buildings of State Owned Enterprises;