The National Party is proposing a special police unit focused on gangs, but Hawke's Bay leaders are looking for a balanced approach to the problem.

The unit could check for liquor licences if booze was served at a gang pad, inspect tax records for welfare fraud, and look at making it illegal for gang members to hang out with other gang members.

These are some of the suggestions in the party's law and order discussion document, which party leader Simon Bridges launched on Tuesday in Auckland.

"The Government I lead will harass and disrupt gangs every single day I am prime minister, with the single-minded goal of eliminating them," Bridges said.

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Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the increase in gang numbers was really worrying but a balanced approach was needed.

She said she was hoping to bring together the community next year at a "gang forum" to "look at other ways we can solve this issue together as a community".

"I hear from people in our community almost every week about the intimidation they feel from seeing gang patches and about the family and wider community harm that comes from their criminal offending," she said.

She says that the work needs to be shared as council works to crack down on gangs but also invest in finding a solution to keeping people out of them.

"There needs to be a shared approach with central government, local government and the community to collectively tackle some of these issues," Hazlehurst said.

"We have to be both tough on crime as well as invest in social wellbeing and fixing the social conditions that drive people to gangs."

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Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the increase in gang numbers is really worrying. Photo / File
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the increase in gang numbers is really worrying. Photo / File

National's police unit would be modelled on the Strike Force Raptor in New South Wales, which handled all gang-related incidents.

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"Gang numbers have exploded in New Zealand under this soft on crime Government," National's Police spokesperson Brett Hudson said.

"They have grown at almost twice the rate of new Police recruits and since the election gang membership has increased by 1400. The number of frontline Police officers has increased by around 850."

Hudson believes a unit similar to the one used in New South Wales would cause an effect on gang activity.

"Gangs peddle misery in our communities, manufacturing and dealing drugs and carrying out violence," Hudson said.

"A unit like 'Strike Force Raptor' would interrupt gang activity."

National wants to make gang patches illegal in public places. Photo / File
National wants to make gang patches illegal in public places. Photo / File

Police Minister and Napier MP Stuart Nash was unable to comment on National's announcement as he is attending the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris.

Last week Eastern District police moved for five days to what is known as general arming, where Police temporarily carry a firearm on their hip as a heightened response to inter-gang violence.

Nash said increased resources had been given for police in Eastern District, with the District Commander using the extra officers to establish a Gang Focus Unit dedicated to preventing and responding to organised crime involving gangs.

This Gang Focus Unit has arrested more than 60 gang members in the past six months and has seized more than $250,000 in cash – dirty money from the methamphetamine trade, Nash said.

Simon Bridges said he would make bringing down gangs a key focus if he was elected. Photo / File
Simon Bridges said he would make bringing down gangs a key focus if he was elected. Photo / File

Hazlehurst said that work is already being done to help young people out of gangs.

"We have a hard working Youth Employment Team at HDC who are helping hundreds of young people into training and work so they have a positive pathway in life.

"The rate of young people (15–24 year olds) not in employment, education or training in Hastings has now dropped from 18 per cent to 13 per cent in the last year," she said.