A top police officer in Tauranga says the city’s proximity makes it a key target for those involved in gangs and the drug market.
His comments come as hundreds packed Baycourt in Tauranga to hear from police and others regarding rising gang tensions.
Clifford Paxton told the packed audience Tauranga is an affluent area where importation and the market makes it attractive to those in criminal rings.
Mayor Tenby Powell said port cities appear to be more affected than other parts of the country.
One local took offence to gangs being called a business, and felt it was “legitimising” an illegal activity.
Others said they’ve seen an increase in crime, and criticised the police response, suggesting police should attack the demand for drugs.
However, Mr Paxton said the community is driving the demand for meth.
He said gangs exist because they’re disconnected from society, and said we need to provide a way to connect them, so they can add value to communities.