Gang patch ban will go nationwide: Laws

Wanganui's Mayor Michael Laws says he is "absolutely convinced" the city's new gang patch ban law will spread nationwide.

Parliament passed the bill last week, giving the council the power to ban gang patches in public places.

The legislation was drafted by the council and only applies to Wanganui.

Mr Laws said today he knew other mayors wanted it.

"I don't think Wanganui's got a worse gang problem than most other provincial cities...Hastings, Porirua, Invercargill -- the issue for us is somebody had to lead this so we decided we would," he said on TV One's Q&A programme.

"We should never have had to do what we did in Wanganui. There should have been legislation against gang patches and intimidation and the wearing of colours and the advertising of their criminal connections, and the recruitment of young kids, 20 years ago."

Under the new law the penalty for wearing gang patches in Wanganui is a $2000 fine, but Mr Laws said that wasn't the main issue.

"The key here is the arrest and seizure, so in actual fact if you're patched, wearing gang colours or insignia, you get arrested and immediately those things get seized from you," he said.

"The final court case with the $2000 fine, that's further down the line."

Mr Laws said wearing patches amounted to advertising criminal connections.

"They strut around the place intimidating people and impress impressionable young kids...the police can (now) actually target people who essentially are criminals."

Wanganui MP Chester Borrows, a former police officer who took the bill through Parliament, said the police wanted the law and it was not going to be a waste of time enforcing it.

"Just a few years ago in Wanganui we targeted gang members...they were stopped and they were tipped out of their cars, they were searched, we concentrated on them and overall crime went down significantly," he said.

"Whenever you're dealing with gang members you're not wasting your time, you're being pro-active."

Mr Borrows said gang colours were worn like a uniform.

"He says `I'm on duty' and once he's done that he takes on the mantle of rapist, arsonist, murderer, drive-by shooter, home invader."

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