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Are Gangs the Symptom or the Cause?

Lots of interesting articles in the latest Rethinking Crime and Punishment (RECAP) newsletter.  Not least:
At the recent Police Leadership conference, Police Minister, Hon. Judith Collins stated that
she didn't adhere to the “widely held belief that it is society's fault that gangs exist.” In her
view, “gangs are not the result of people who believe they do not have a stake in their
communities and their country. Gangs create the people who believe they do not have a
stake in society.” She stated that she had a policy of not engaging with gangs and would
not knowingly even meet with anyone she knew to be a gang member.

At the same conference, Kim Workman offered his own perspective. Drawing on his
experience as a Police Officer in Masterton, he said that within crime families, and within
whanau living on the edge of poverty, were people who wanted a better life for themselves
and their whanau. These people were prepared to support proactive policing if it was done
within a framework of engagement, of mutual trust and respect. He compared Los Angeles
'iron fist' approach to gangs with New York's strategy of community investment and notes
that the New York approach is having much greater success.

(read the rest of his speech here)
Collins seems to have mistaken a "scientifically established fact" for a "widely held belief" but bless her cotton socks, why should she know anything about the social and cultural forces that affect the nation?
Let me know what you think, :-)

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