Rotorua MP seeks extra police for the city

Todd McClay says he has asked the police minister for additional help in Rotorua. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay says he has no qualms about calling in police reinforcements to deal with gangs.

New special search powers are now available to police, to quell gang tensions.

Last week three men aged between 28 and 35 were arrested in the city following what police describe as an unprovoked attack and stabbing.

The trio has been charged with aggravated robbery, wounding with intent and participating in an organised criminal group.

Police are also investigating a shopping centre carpark shooting that left a man with gunshot wounds to his legs.

They believe both crimes are linked to organised criminal groups or gangs.

Changes to the law mean that if there is a gang conflict police can apply to the courts for a more general warrant that allows them to search cars, houses or properties for weapons.

Last week the court granted those powers.

McClay says it is a concern that gang membership numbers were up throughout the Bay of Plenty and in many parts of New Zealand.

"These gangs that are often younger men feel emboldened and the real tragedy here is the harm that can be caused to you know law-abiding citizens and the public."

Local police were taking their responsibilities seriously and working hard, McClay says.

He says it is obvious to locals that police had additional pressure put on them and were struggling due to the number of people sent to Rotorua - where hotels were used as emergency housing under the previous government.

That, combined with a greater gang presence in the city over the last few months, had led him to speak to Police Minister Mark Mitchell asking for additional help, he says.

"We do need the equivalent of reinforcements or you know extra police on the ground, questions about long-term policing in Rotorua are separate to this, it's actually some work needs to be done now because our police need some help."

The police minister had made it clear where police put their resources was an operational matter, but said he would raise it with them, McClay says.

There were times when there were just not enough police officers on duty in Rotorua, he says.

McClay says it was not something he would normally ask for as a local MP but in this case the police needed extra help.

Rotorua was not a dangerous place but the public were very worried about the situation, he says.

"They're seeing gang patches more, they know when someone wears a gang patch they've got that because they've committed a crime and there's victims out there and you know they are worried."

Taking gang members patches off them was one of a number of tools which included the use disbursement orders and non-association orders which allowed the police to push back, he says.


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