This research is part of a cross-sectoral, multi-faceted response to a call for significant government intervention in Counties Manukau after increased reports about escalating youth gang activity and violent assaults in the area.
The first section of the research report outlines the methodology for the research, while the second section sets the context by looking at the demographic profile of Counties Manukau, and at definitions of youth gangs and the history of youth gangs in New Zealand.
The third section looks specifically at youth gangs in Counties Manukau by profiling youth gangs, discussing whether the prevalence of youth gangs can be determined, and discussing factors that may contribute to youth gangs and youth delinquency. This third section also lists participants' suggested responses to the issues associated with youth gangs and youth delinquency.
The report ends with an addendum that focuses on a plan of action, which is a key part of government's longer-term response. The plan sets out 26 actions that government is undertaking now to improve outcomes for young people in Counties Manukau and other key areas across Auckland, to better support young people to succeed.
Increased reports about escalating youth gang activity and increases in violent assaults led both government and community representatives to call for significant government intervention in Counties Manukau.
As part of a co-ordinated, cross-sectoral response, the Ministry of Social Development’s Centre for Social Research and Evaluation was asked to research the issue of youth gangs. This report highlights the findings of this research. There have been reports of youth gangrelated problems in a number of areas in New Zealand. It is hoped that the research findings arising from a focus on Counties Manukau will provide an evidence base for policy development that will be applicable to other regions throughout New Zealand.
The research used a multi-method ethnographic approach that included observation, participant observation, literature review and document analysis, interviewing and data analysis (Reinharz 1992).
The research involved extensive engagement with:
- community-based participants including social service agency staff and community representatives with an interest orinvolvement in youth and youth gang activities
- Auckland regional government agency staff including: the Police; Ministry of Education; Child, Youth and Family; Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Youth Development; Ministry of Social Development (including Work and Income, and Family and Community Services)
- current and former youth gang members
- non-gang youth.
The study employed “purposive snowballing” procedures to connect with youth and community participants. The fieldwork began in November 2005 and was completed in March 2006. The research methods are described in detail in Appendix B.