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Farmers Must Be Vigilant Against Organised Crime

15 November 2000 PR128/2000

POLICE COMMISSIONER TELLS FARM LEADERS: RURAL COMMUNITIES MUST BE VIGILANT AGAINST ORGANISED CRIME

Police Commissioner Rob Robinson told the Federated Farmers National Council meeting in Wellington that rural communities and families need to be vigilant against organised crime gaining a foothold in rural areas.

The Police Commissioner said that individuals are too often being thankful they were not the victim of a particular crime, instead of being concerned that the criminal behaviour is weakening their community and lowering their standard of living.

"Individuals are too often saying "Thank God it's not me", rather than realising that the behaviour weakens their community," he told the assembled national and provincial leaders.

Even crimes that appear victimless can give criminals a foothold, and he pleaded for suspicious behaviour to be reported so that police activities can be targeted through better information.

Robinson gave the example of drugs being manufactured in rural areas, saying that the criminals liked the isolation just as much as residents, because they can monitor surveillance efforts more easily. "Citizens need to be vigilant and tell the Police what is suspicious in their area."

The Commissioner said he "made no apology to rural people who think that they can have a few beers and then drive home. It's a fact that rural people are over-represented in the road toll."

The Commissioner noted that firearms storage and security was a real concern to the Police, and that gangs target collectors. He remarked that most guns in the hands of criminals were from burglaries, and guns are favourite items for burglars because they were almost guaranteed to be able to be sold on.

While he was sympathetic for rural families who felt isolated, he warned the farm leaders that the Police were strongly opposed to farmers arming themselves to defend against property thefts. "I cannot condone the misuse of firearms. There is no place for Wild West approaches. Self defence laws are there to protect us all."

Stock thefts were of particular concern expressed by the National Council, as they saw it as a crime given too low a priority by the Police.

Commissioner Robinson said that he was proud of the integration of police radio communications into three centres, rather than having radios monitored in small stations across New Zealand. He conceded that some rural people felt that they had a lower police presence with the change but it was much safer for Police Officers working alone.

ENDS


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