Police Minister Chris Hipkins says "the desire for made-for-TikTok videos" and the quest for notoriety in the media was playing a major part in the rash of ram raids by young people.
Hipkins made the comment at a select committee appearance alongside Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, saying media coverage of the ram raids was playing a part and some were simply "looking for notoriety".
Afterwards Hipkins told media Police had advised him social media was playing a significant role in ram raids.
"The desire for made-for-TikTok videos, so these young people are filming their offending, they're putting it on TikTok, they want people to see it. I acknowledge there's a public interest in people wanting to know what's going on but to some extent that is feeding the notoriety challenge too. It's one of those intractable problems. There isn't necessarily a solution to that."
He said Police had reported good feedback from the social media companies to try to stop that cycle.
Hipkins had earlier told the law and order select committee that the key issues for him in his new role were growing anxiety about gangs "because of the increased visibility of gang-related activity" and youth offending.
"There is no question that the visibility of some of those high-profile youth offending incidents, the ram raids in particular, that we've seen on TV are pretty confronting for anybody watching them. It's a bit of a Catch-22 there, I have to say. It's something I know the media have turned to.
"I think there's a public interest in seeing that material, but having said that, I think there's also an acknowledgement that some of these young people who engage in that activity are looking for the very notoriety that comes from that publicity. So that's a challenging area to lean into because the last thing we want to do is give them the notoriety they're looking for."
Hipkins was also asked by National police spokesman Mark Mitchell about his plans on gangs and whether he was considering measures such as National's proposal to allow dispersal orders – to prevent gangs congregating in public places – and ban gang patches being worn in public areas.
Hipkins said he did not intend to include a ban on gang patches in an upcoming package of proposals around gangs, but would not rule out dispersal orders.
"It is one I am looking at. I have not ruled it out completely." However, he said he was aware of reports in Australia of the dispersal orders being used to clear groups who were not the intended target of such measures.
"One of the things that I'm very mindful of ... I have no issue with curbing the human rights of people who are engaged in criminal activity because I think if they want to engage in criminal activity, there's a consequence of that. But, as parliamentarians, we all have a responsibility to ensure that when we are passing laws in areas that potentially infringe on people's rights that we are targeting the right people."
He and Justice Minister Kiri Allan expected to have a package of measures prepared within the next couple of months. He would soon be embarking on visits to frontline Police to hear from them what they needed.
Afterwards Coster addressed reports that after the Parliament protests in February, 35 staff were referred to psychologists and more than 750 to wellness advisers.
Coster said he was proud of the way Police responded and their restraint.
"I think it's a good reminder that Police are humans too. We are providing support through lots of different means.
"We need to bear in mind that day in and day out, our people deal with very traumatic situations. This is an ongoing thing for us to take care of our people."
Asked what he would be asking of Hipkins in his new role as Police Minister, Coster said they were briefing Hipkins on key issues and would be taking him out to meet frontline staff in the next few weeks.