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Kate Hawkesby: Simon Bridges right to stay away from Mongrel Mob

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Thursday, 10 October 2019, 10:42AM
National Leader Simon Bridges says the Government's "soft on crime" approach is damaging communities. Photo / File

So yesterday, I raised on the programme how Simon Bridges had written a letter turning down an invite to a Mongrel Mob event and the reaction that had garnered from some quarters.

Those who called him a wimp for not wanting to meet with gangs, those who said all leaders should be open to meeting with gangs.

I’m not sure why anyone would be surprised that the leader of a party whose loudly proclaimed their stance on gangs (spoiler alert – they’re not keen on them) would snap up an invite to attend an event with one, but there you go.

So given Bridges would obviously rather crack down on gangs than have sandwiches with them, he made a couple of points in his letter of reply.

One, that he accepts people are capable of change redemption and reintegration, and that some individual gang members may do some good community work, but two, that he’s also seen first hand the misery caused by gangs.

That in his time as a Crown prosecutor and an MP he’d seen the crime, the drug peddling, the violence, particularly against women.

He reiterated his party’s desire to get tough on gangs.

He also said he wasn’t interested in meeting with them until they hand over their guns, and they stop all involvement in drugs and violence.

But that stance, did not suit the Twitterati.

It didn’t sit comfortably with the current climate of expectation that everyone should sit down and chat about everything.

The cold hard reality though is that patched membership of gangs is on the increase.

New police figures show there are more than 6700 patched and prospect gang members in NZ.

About 1400 more people joined a gang since this government came in.

So how would Simon Bridges sitting down with the Mongrel Mob help things?

Well, listening is always a good idea, but what’s the expectation here?

That they can change his mind?

That he should show up and shut up and hear them out?

Where’s the quid pro quo? What are they prepared to do?

Hand over their guns? Give up the drugs? Stop the violence?

We know the answer to those questions.

Just the other day, we had a patched violent gang brawl in Huntly which broke out in the main street, reportedly terrifying the public.

Car loads of them, Black Power and Mongrel Mob patched members fighting in broad daylight.

If Simon Bridges had shown up to have a good chat, do you think anything would have changed?

Me neither.

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