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Wellington bar owner says ACT's proposed gangs crackdown would have impact

ACT's proposal to crack down on gangs in the face of the Government's "soft approach on crime" has been welcomed by a Wellington bar owner. 

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Danger Danger’s Matt McLaughlin says the CBD is not a “pleasant place to hang around”, largely thanks to gangs. Source: 1 NEWS

Although there had been an improvement in safety in the CBD recently thanks to the Pōneke Promise, Danger Danger's Matt McLaughlin thought ACT's crack down would have an impact.

"I do love the thoughts that we heard here today because I think it is going to have an impact because Wellington City at the moment is not a pleasant place to hang around and it’s affecting our city, it’s affecting our businesses and I think it needs to change."

The party largely wants to track gang members' spending in an effort to protect their children.

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ACT proposes policy to track gang members' spending to protect their children

Its Social Development spokeswoman, Karen Chhour, said the proposed policy tips the balance towards the child and away from crime. 

McLaughlin said people did not feel safe walking up and down Courtenay Place, with incidents occurring almost daily.

He said he called police on Sunday after a man, who was walking up and down the street "staunchly", ripped his shirt off and stopped a car and a bus.

"That sort of stuff shouldn't be happening.

"I think any proactive policy that is going to reduce crime is certainly going to help us in our industry and our city."

Danger Danger owner Matt McLaughlin. Source: 1 NEWS

ACT's announcement comes as the Ministry of Social Development reports a high proportion of gang members’ children experiencing multiple incidents of abuse or neglect.

Of the nearly 4000 known gang members, 27 per cent were recorded by Oranga Tamariki as being the alleged perpetrators of substantiated abuse or neglect of children, with MSD also noting limitations around the completeness of historical data.

According to MSD, nine out of every ten gang members have received main benefits.

"Gang members would receive their benefit in the form of an electronic card that would track and restrict spending on alcohol, gambling, and tobacco. The money provided by taxpayers will need to go towards food and other essentials," Chhour said.

"At the end of the day, the Government’s 'kindness' approach has led to an explosion in gang numbers which has perpetuated cycles of misery. We need a new approach," she said.

McLaughlin said the city's bars were safe and he wished the streets were the same.