The National Party has recently released a policy statement about gangs. There are promises about raiding gangs on a regular basis to uncover potential wrongdoing and stopping welfare payments if people have assets they cannot explain.
All policies start with a list of objectives which, in this case, are documented as:
Policy proposals don’t usually immediately follow the list of agreed outcomes. Usually, there is a period of really getting to the bottom of what the problem is that we want to solve, so that the subsequently developed proposals speak directly to resolving those problems.
The only evidence of a problem definition in the policy document on gangs is the statement that the number of patched gang member has risen 26% since Labour took office, and there is nothing to say where this figure came from.
International studies suggest that there are four key issues which make gangs powerful and there are some effective ways of addressing those issues.
1. The problem: the ‘pull’ and ‘push’ factors which mean that disenfranchised youth are more likely to swell the numbers in gangs and keep the gangs going.
3. The problem: drugs. So long as there is demand for drugs, there will be supply including domestic manufacture or transnational importing, whether or not street gangs or some other elements of organised crime are involved.
Making drug production and importation more difficult results in only the biggest and most efficient drug syndicates surviving in the market. Their competition is driven away and they are granted monopoly power in the black market, making them thrive. When a government cracks down to reduce the supply of drugs, drug suppliers sell more or less the same quantity as before (because there is a never-ending supply), but at higher prices. This often leads to even larger drug sales and revenues than before. A drug war that focuses disproportionately on supply reduction tends to strengthen and enrich – rather than weaken and impoverish – the operations of drug suppliers.