A Rotorua motorcycle club member who claimed the Filthy Few “brings people together, does good work in the community and supports families” has been stopped from working in security.
Police asked for Thomas Peato’s certificate of approval to be cancelled earlier this year because he was a patched member of the Filthy Few Motorcycle Club, according to a New Zealand Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority decision.
Police said being in the Bay of Plenty based club was inconsistent with character and background requirements needed to work in the security industry.
Peato disagreed with police and said the Filthy Few were not involved in criminal activities.
However, Rotorua police sergeant Chris Mcleod, Intelligence Collections Co-ordinator in the Bay of Plenty Intelligence Section, said he had personal experience with the club throughout the region.
The Filthy Few were engaged in criminal behaviour and had been for their “entire existence”, he said.
“Information currently received from both general policing and inside sources confirms that the Filthy Few are still involved in drug dealing, unlawful possession of firearms, standover tactics and assaults on the public,” Mcleod argued.
“One of the Filthy Few’s underpinning behavioural blocks is the 1 per cent symbol that stands for the fact that they are the 1 per cent of rebellious citizens who do not conform to the laws of society,” the decision said.
Peato argued that “people who engaged in illegal activities are no longer with the club” and that it had changed “in the last few years”.
He said the 1 per cent symbol “now stands for the fact that they are the 1 per cent who think outside the box” and compared it to “entrepreneurs”.
” . . . the Filthy Few are still involved in drug dealing, unlawful possession of firearms, standover tactics and assaults on the public.”
The authority accepted that Peato himself was “not currently involved in any criminal activities with the Filthy Few” and was “genuine in his desire to want to support the community and families within his community”.
But it rejected that the club had “gone through a radical transformation in the last few years”.
The authority said the gang’s “strong hierarchical structure” meant “Peato can be required to carry out orders from above”.
His certificate of approval, the licence required to operate as a security officer, was cancelled.
University of Canterbury criminologist Professor Greg Newbold “absolutely” agreed with the ruling.
Newbold said “there’s no question about it’’ that the Filthy Few had been involved in criminal activity.”
Newbold said in his view the argument that being a “1 per center” stands for thinking outside the box is “bull **** ”.
“It comes right back to the origins of the Hell’s Angels right back in the 1950s . . . You can’t have it both ways.
“When it comes to something like law enforcement, which requires a character test, then you’re outside that compass.”
New Zealand Security Association chief executive Gary Morrison said police commonly objected to people with club connections holding a licence.
“Persons involved with gangs may come under pressure to provide information or access for illegal purposes.”
The association’s chairman is Brett Wilson, chief executive of Watchdog Security in Rotorua.
Wilson said in his view the suggestion “gangs” were not involved in organised crime was “laughable”.
He knew of other incidents where people who had held security licences had developed “gang” associations and then became involved in “serious crimes”.
Wilson described one situation where a new employee at a security company went to “great lengths to hide the fact he was a patched gang member from his employer and the police”.
“He was tasked to use his position to obtain information on a specific business’ security practices. Fortunately only two days into his employment it was discovered he was trying to access information.”
In Wilson’s opinion, “any gang association should be an automatic disqualification for holding a certificate of approval”.
“I believe that stance would be supported by the vast majority of security company owners.”
It wasn’t “too difficult” to find staff without gang connections, he said, although employers had to be vigilant.
Thomas Peato did not respond to requests for comment.