Police vigilance or harassment? | The Jackal

18 Mar 2012

Police vigilance or harassment?

Yesterday, the Nelson Mail reported:

Police "vigilance" towards New Zealand gangs and Nelson's motorcycle poker run last weekend has been challenged by a Canterbury University researcher.

New Zealand gang expert and Canterbury University sociologist Jarrod Gilbert told the Nelson Mail he questioned whether the police vigilance at the poker run, associated with the Red Devils and Hell's Angels gangs, was deserved after his research on New Zealand gangs for the past eight years.

It raised questions about whether organised gang crime even existed in New Zealand, he said.

Mr Gilbert declined to release a summary of his nationwide research, which he finished this month and will be released in a book later this year.

"You have to question whether or not it's a wise use of police resources and money ... we get a very distorted police picture of gangs," Mr Gilbert said.


The case against the Red Devils would be a good test as to whether the vigilance police attention on gangs in Nelson was deserved.

"If all of those charges stick then likely the vigilance has been warranted. But, if none of those charges stick then perhaps there has to be questions asked of police."

Mr Gilbert said he had spent the past eight years researching and spending time with the country's gangs, including time in Nelson.

Mr Gilbert said he found the police picture of New Zealand gangs was largely incorrect. Any crimes committed were led by individuals rather than organised gang crime, he said.

His conclusions were based on evidence, he said, such as the lack of police arrests or gang wealth from crime, rather than any fear of gang repercussion.

"I'm not concerned by the prospect of upsetting gangs, nor am I fazed about the prospect of upsetting police or politicians. What I am concerned about is the truth."

I think Gilbert's research is probably right on the money and look forward to reading it. Much like the unequal amount of attention crime committed by Maori gets by the media with endless appearances by racist Garth McVicar, gangs get a disproportionate hard time by the Police because basically; they're an easy target.

Now I'm not claiming that gangs don't undertake any organized crime, but there is far more crime committed by people in suits. You don't see the Police stopping everybody wearing a suit now do you or raiding their offices with guns?

So let's start seeing an equal application of the law without unfounded stereotyping causing discrimination. This would mean a more efficient use of resources and therefore a more effective Policing regime.