Abbott promises to crack down on gangs

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A coalition government will crack down on gang warfare and knife crime if it wins the election, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says.

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Mr Abbott on Thursday promised to establish a national violent gangs database to track the activities of malicious groups around the country.

A similarly-named squad, set up under the auspices of the Australian Crime Commission, also would be created to lead the fight against violent gangs.

The list of banned knives would be extended and “tougher” uniform penalties put in place for people who carry knives, Mr Abbott said.

Extra funding for metal detectors would be made available.

Mr Abbott said many major gangs, involved in drug trafficking and “horrific” outbreaks of violence, operated nationally.

“Plainly there is a lot of street crime which is just random … but a very significant percentage of the drug trafficking in this country is gang related,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

“There is a lot of associated criminal activity.”

Through the Council of Australian Governments, the coalition will seek a national standard on the quantities involved in the trafficking and possession of illicit drugs offences.

Drug offenders should be dealt with consistently by judicial systems across the nation so that there were no legal or definitional loopholes between states and territories, Mr Abbott said.

“Justice and policing has not been a priority of the Rudd-Gillard governments,” he said.

“Labor promised to increase the Australian Federal Police by 500 officers, but this has not occurred.”