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New Zealand's top policeman will tackle gang activity "head-on" and pump more resources into youth offending, he has said.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad - who took over the top job this week - was in Whangarei for talks with Northland police bosses yesterday.

He told media he wanted more resources put into youth crime, while gangs would also be targeted.

Youth gangs were an "area of opportunity" for police to prevent future crime, he said.

He wanted to increase investment in youth work over the next three years, and raise the profile of youth services staff who dealt with criminally inclined youngsters.

Gangs are also in his sights. "I think there are very dire consequences with having large groups of people committed to breaking the law," Mr Broad said.

His views will be welcomed by police in areas like Whangarei who themselves have been tackling increased adult gang activity, and an upsurge in youth gangs in the city in the last year.

Operation Phoenix, launched last October, targeted youth gang members and adult gang prospects committing crime in downtown Whangarei.

The operation was blended into a new police youth crime unit, focusing on Whangarei's 30 worst youth criminals.

The targeting of the troublesome youngsters was being credited by police for an improved feeling of safety in the Whangarei CBD.

Mr Broad also confirmed Northland would be one area to get more police officers, but said details were still being worked through.

It would be up to local police bosses to decide how those extra resources were used.

He believed the biggest issue currently facing Northland police was their "engagement with the community".

Though the relationship was already "pretty good", police needed to work with the community to tackle issues such as alcohol and drug abuse and family violence which were the "aggravators" of crime.

Mr Broad was also discussing text bullying and "what's being pushed through the internet".

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE (WHANGAREI)