National MP Simeon Brown says "police must warn gangs, not the public" over a planned Auckland funeral procession tomorrow which is likely to see a large gang presence.
The National police and corrections spokesman's comments come as earlier today police issued a statement saying there is expected to be a funeral procession involving a large number of patched gang members travelling across Auckland tomorrow.
NZ Herald reports the funeral is for ex-Head Hunter Taranaki Fuimaono, who died in police custody on the weekend.
Police warned the public about the funeral procession, after dangerous driving incidents at similar events.
"We are aware of previous incidents involving gang processions where dangerous driving behaviour has been exhibited by some of the riders, which has at times put those involved and the wider community at risk," inspector Jacqui Whittaker said.
Police say they will be "actively monitoring this event to ensure the procession is carried out in a safe manner for all road users".
Brown, who has been an ouspoken critic of the police response to gangs in recent months, was not impressed with the police response.
“It is clear that there is a recurrent problem here where gangs feel entitled to endanger and inconvenience others. While everyone is entitled to grieve the loss of loved ones, no one has the right to do so in a way that breaks the law and puts public safety at risk,” Brown said in a statement.
He also had a message for Minister of Police Poto Williams on the issue, saying there needs to be more police on the streets.
“Police officers want to do their jobs. They don’t want to sit in their cars while laws are broken by patched gang members in front of them. National understands that gangs can smell weakness and we know being tough on gangs is vital. Unfortunately, this Government sees gang members as vulnerable and standing up to them as unkind.”
Poto Williams has previously hit back at this accusation in Parliament, last month telling Brown the Government is tough on gangs.
"The Government has committed to combating the harm caused by organised crime," Williams said.
"Already as part of Operation Tauwhiro police have seized 350 firearms, $2.46 million in cash, 8.6 kilograms of meth; arrested 378 people; and conducted 291 search warrants."
Brown isn't the only MP unhappy with the police response to the funeral, with ACT's justice spokesperson Nicole McKee today stating: “New Zealanders should be able to go about their daily lives without fear and intimidation from gang members.
“The police have said 'We are aware of previous incidents involving gang processions where dangerous driving behaviour has been exhibited by some of the riders, which has at times put those involved and the wider community at risk'."
“Why on earth are law abiding members of the public being told to steer clear? How about arresting the gang members as soon as they break the law."