Dr Gilbert originally blogged:
The Minister says there are 4,000 known gang members in New Zealand. She says that so far this year they are responsible* for 34 percent of class A & B drug offences; 36 percent of kidnapping and adduction offences; 25 percent of aggravated robbery/robbery offences; 26 percent of grievous assault offences; and consequently 28 percent of the prison population is gang members. Sounds bad, right? If we believe what we are told, gang members make up just 0.1 percent of the population yet they are responsible for between a quarter and more than a third of these serious crimes. Bloody hell.
Unfortunately, I suspect it’s bollocks. More than that I’ll bet on it.
I had a look at the crime stats and said that the figures seem very credible:
Aggravated Robberies and Robberies
There were 2,032 robberies (both types) last year. 25% would be 508. That seems a credible number for 1,620 to 4,000 gang members to do.
Kidnappings and Abductions
There were 198 kidnappings and abductions last year. 36% would be 71. That seems a credible number for 1,620 to 4,000 gang members to do.
If you add up the 17 assault categories that mention GBH, there were 500 offences last year. 26% would be 130. That seems a credible number for 1,620 to 4,000 gang members to do.
Class A and B drug offences
There were 16,070 illicit drug offences in 2013. They are broken up into specific drugs and it would take a long time to do an exact count. But a previous Stats report is that less than 10% are Class A and B. So a fair assumption is 1,607 Class A and B drug offences last year. 34% would be 546. That seems a credible number for 1,620 to 4,000 gang members to do.
I also got sent the data provided by the Police, which was for Q1 2014:
- Class A/B drug offences total 218 out of 649
- Kidnapping and abduction 16 out of 44
- Aggravated robbery/robbery 72 out of 284
- Grievous assault 130 out of 506
Now sadly Dr Gilbert won’t accept he was wrong, but is now trying to argue that there is a difference between gang associates and gang members. So he is not at all disputing that gangs are responsible for 25% to 36% of kidnappings, robberies, grievous assaults and serious drug offences. He is now just saying that the crime figures may include associates, not just gang menbers:
I spend a lot of time working in prisons and I spend a lot of time with gangs. The prisons are not so full of gang members and not a single gang I know has anywhere remotely close to half of its members inside.
Is Dr Gilbert Saying the Corrections Department is lying when it says 28% of the prison population are gang members? They supplied the data, and I see no reason why they would make it up.
What the 28 percent prison number represents is gang members as well as gang associates in prison.
So it is a technical argument over definitions. I don’t care what you call them.
A few years back The Police Association said gangs and associates numbered 60,000.
The Police Association are not an official source. The Police are. They say there are 4,000 gang members. I don’t know if they includes associates in that. I presume Police and Corrections are using the same definition.
So I’m glad Dr Gilbert is not disputing that gangs are responsible for 25% to 36% of those four serious crime categories. He is disputing whether they are all done by members, or associates. I doubt that matters to the victims of the grievous assaults, robberies and kidnappings.