Our View: Police quick to end gang violence

The weekend's gang incident in Tauranga serves as a timely reminder that here in the Western Bay, we are not entirely immune to the problems caused by gangs in other cities.
Thankfully, gang activity is a rarity in Tauranga, certainly when compared to places such as Wanganui and Hastings, which over the years have regularly found themselves in the national spotlight over gang-related issues.
The full details of what happened over the weekend are yet to be determined, but it is alleged the confrontation, which involved weapons including softball bats, hammers and a shovel, was instigated after members of the Filthy Few gang became involved in an altercation with a member of the Greasy Dogs, a Welcome Bay-based gang.
Soon after that, it is claimed the Greasy Dogs retaliated by turning up in large numbers at the Filthy Few's Birch Ave headquarters, where a stand-off took place on the street.
These sorts of incidents are sadly an inevitable by-product of the gang culture, a culture which is quick to both hold a grudge and to resort to violence as a reactionary measure.
The tribalism inherent in any gang organisation means a perceived slight against an individual will always also be seen as slight against the collective, and when combined with the existing gang culture, the result is usually one of violence. Constructive dialogue is not normally an option.
Gangs like the Filthy Few and the Greasy Dogs do not get as much attention as their more well-known counterparts, the Mongrel Mob and Black Power.

However, incidents like that which occurred over the weekend make a mockery of any thought that the Tauranga gangs might be somehow different, or less prone to violence, than the likes of the Mongrel Mob or Black Power.
With that in mind, it's great to see the city's police responding to these sorts of incidents quickly and efficiently.
While one increasingly popular school of thought suggests gangs should be left to fight among themselves, and deal with the consequences, the far more sobering reality is that any sort of violence in a public forum risks an innocent person being caught up in the middle of it.
It's this risk which ensures police are quick to get involved whenever gang violence flares up.
In this election year, the Government will make much of its efforts to get tough on crime, in particular its populist gestures, like clamping down on boy racers, and the dropping of provocation as a defence in the wake of the murder of Sophie Elliott.
If the government is looking for another broad-appeal gesture to help boost its support, cracking down on organised gangs would be a good place to start.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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