Wednesday 2 March 2016

Costly gangs

The linking up of back-end government administrative data turns up interesting results.

The Ministry of Social Development report is depressing stuff. There's a core of just under 4000 known gang members. They're heavily welfare dependent. 92% spent some time on benefit from 1993 through 2014, spending an average of just under 9 of those 21* years on benefit. Over 7000 kids have spent time on benefits linked to a gang member's benefit. Over a quarter of the gang members were linked to child abuse or neglect, though the mother was more often recorded as the alleged perpetrator.

Also depressing are some of the proposed policy responses.
The Government was working on a range of other gang-related initiatives to address the costs of crime, she [Collins] said.

A Start at Home programme was being developed to provide support services for gang members and families by creating new programmes and modifying existing ones.

Multi-agency taskforces were targeting drug trafficking and gang networks, and helped recover over 334 kilograms of methamphetamine with a street value of $334 million in 2015, while seizing almost $14 million of property and profits gained from crime.

New, gang-related laws were being developed, including legislation to place 24-hour GPS monitoring on high-risk offenders like gang members to ensure restrictions on going to gang headquarters could be enforced.

Changes to money-laundering laws, making it easier for police to seize cash found in suspicious circumstances, were also being worked on, along with a firearm prohibition regime to stop certain people from accessing guns.
Figuring out what kinds of support service interventions work is a fantastic idea. GPS monitoring can be better than prison too.

But making it easier to seize cash has led to horrible abuses in the U.S.

The earlier parts of the story, where they roll up together costs incurred over 21 years into one big number, also ain't so hot. Present annual figures for this stuff to allow for reasonable comparisons please?

* The first time I read that, I thought it had been 11 years, not 21. 1993 is becoming unreasonably long ago.

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