Thursday, April 18, 2024

Top cop fronts public meeting on crime

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Counties Manukau East Police area commander, inspector Scott Gemmell, discussed law and order issues with local residents at a public meeting on June 13. Times file photo Wayne Martin

There’s been an influx of gang members into east Auckland in recent years and dealing with their offending is impacting police resources.

That’s among the information the area’s top cop shared at a public meeting on law and order issues organised by Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown on June 13.

About 100 people turned out to Howick Bowling Club to hear from Brown as well as Counties Manukau East Police area commander, inspector Scott Gemmell, senior sergeant Anson Lin and Howick police sergeant Brett Meale.

Brown opened the meeting by talking about the recent spike in crime locally, including suspected gang shootings and ram-raid burglaries of retail stores.

“I know by just speaking to a number of you on the way in you’re being impacted even in your own neighbourhoods by anti-social behaviour, crime, the increased presence of gangs in our community and the tensions that we’re seeing,” he said.

“This is not an issue which is simply something that is out there in the media.

“More and more often it’s unfortunately coming closer to home.”

Gemmell told the audience about his family background and police experience before giving an overview about the main issues relating to crime in the area.

He talked about the young ages of some youths involved in the recent ram-raid burglaries and how police are working with the families involved to stop such offending.

“It’s a tough job and we’re dealing with some very complex family issues.”

An audience member asked whether police have seen an increase in gang members living in the area and what impact that’s had on police resources.

Gemmell said there have always been a number of gangs in the Counties Manukau East area.

“We are seeing an influx of gangs that we traditionally didn’t have probably five to six years ago.

“That was an influx of gangs like the Comancheros, Mongols, Head Hunters and Rebels.

“So yes, we have seen an influx of gang members coming into our area.

“That’s independent of the growth within the Killer Beez and the Tribesmen already.”

Gemmell said the increase in gang members in the area is impacting police resources.

“If they’re involved in any unlawful behaviour, which many of them are, and it involves drug dealing or firearms offences, that’s necessarily taking Brett’s team, [and] all of Anson’s three prevention teams.”

A resident asked if police were aware of all the properties in the area from which illegal drugs are sold.

Meale said police receive a lot of information about “drug addresses” from members of the public.

“It’s not as simple as someone ringing up and saying ‘there’s drug dealing going on at that house’ and we go around there.

“There’s a lot of background work gathering more evidence to corroborate what’s going on.”

On the question of whether some sentences handed down in New Zealand are too lenient, Brown said he’s concerned by the Labour Government’s policy of reducing the prison population by 30 per cent.

“That’s not to say we don’t want to see fewer people locked up, but I want to see fewer people locked up because there’s less crime.

“I don’t want to just see fewer people in jail because the Government decides there should be fewer people in jail.”

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