Gang violence: Police operation to roll out nationwide

Source: 1News

A police operation targeting gang violence will be moving beyond Auckland in the coming weeks, the police commissioner says.

It comes as new Police Minister Chris Hipkins admits there is an increase in gang tensions and violence, while new figures show a rise in gang members on electronic monitoring.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster told 1News Operation Cobalt has effectively started in Auckland with gangs the Killer Beez and Tribesmen being targeted.

"We were using the kinds of tactics that you will see under Operation Cobalt," he said.

Coster explained Operation Cobalt is an "extension and broadening" of Operation Tauwhiro, which has focused on unlawfully held firearms and getting them out of the hands of gangs.

READ MORE: Chris Hipkins: Some youth offending 'made for TikTok'

"[Operation Cobalt] is going to look much wider," he said.

"It will look at any unlawful gang activity with the idea we put pressure on groups who are behaving badly in our communities."

Coster disclosed Operation Cobalt will be expanding over the country in the coming weeks.

It will attempt to disrupt unlawful gang activity and also keep on top of smaller events such as monitoring gang members in tangi and motorcycle convoys.

He said the operation would be successful if there is a reduction in gang violence spilling out into communities and if "visible offending" by gangs, which makes the public feel unsafe, is reduced.

"An operation like this is not going to resolve our whole gang problem," Coster said.

"Clearly that is a much bigger issue but what it will do is ensure our communities can feel safe when they're faced with this kind of behaviour from gangs."

On Tuesday, Hipkins said there had "clearly" been an increase in gang related violence and gang related tension.

"That's not acceptable and we do need to get that back under control. I'll be working with the police to make sure they have to tools to do that."

After a week in the job he has met with Coster twice to talk tactics for potential law changes and extra resourcing.

New figures obtained by ACT show an increase in the number of gang members being electronically monitored from home.

"There's 889 gangsters not in prison but with ankle bracelets, more than twice as many as when Labour took office," he said, adding it was not fair that they commit crimes and stay home.

READ MORE: Chris Hipkins: Some youth offending 'made for TikTok'