TODAY |

'Gang life ruins families and the social cost is unacceptable'

Two community programmes designed to support children and partners of gang members have been announced today by Social Development Minister Anne Tolley.

Source: Photos.com

"Gang life ruins families, and the social cost through domestic violence and child abuse is unacceptable," Mrs Tolley said.

A report, also released today, estimates the long-term cost to the taxpayer of gang members and their children through their contact with MSD and CYF is $714 million.

"At the same time, the taxpayer is having to foot a massive bill, through benefit payments and child protection," Mrs Tolley said.

"As part of the Gang Action Plan’s Start at Home initiative, we want to break intergenerational gang life and welfare dependence, and reduce the harm caused to their families."

The first two pilot programmes, in Bay of Plenty and East Coast, will see MSD partnering with local social service providers to increase support, education, and youth mentoring.

Total funding for the two trials is $1.1 million over two and a half years, with more initiatives in other regions to follow soon.

"We want the very best for these families, and especially for their children," Mrs Tolley said.

"And with the long-term cost to MSD estimated at over $700 million, not including the cost to the justice sector or the social harm caused to communities, it’s important we focus on prevention."

The MSD report examined 3,960 patched and prospect gang members known to police in July 2014.

The report found 92 per cent have received a main benefit, at least 6,000 to 7,000 children are estimated to have a gang member parent, and 27 per cent of gang members were recorded by CYF as the alleged perpetrators of abuse or neglect of children.

While 5,890 children of gang members are known to CYF and 60 per cent of these children have been abused or neglected, and 23 per cent of the children of gang members known to CYF aged 10 and over had youth justice involvement.