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Police and Immigration formalise practices

16 June 2004

Police and Immigration formalise practices

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), due to be signed at the end of this month between the Immigration Service and Police' will not see Police target illegal immigrants.

Immigration Minister Paul Swain and Police Minister George Hawkins said the New Zealand Immigration Service of the Department of Labour and Police had a number of areas of common interest.

Mr Swain said currently Police came across illegal immigrants in the course of their day-to-day duties and inquiries, and the MOU would formalise the relationship between both agencies.

He said Police would be able to access an Immigration Service 24 hour helpline where significant doubt existed around an individual's immigration status.

"The ability to access this information will be specific to particular cases and will not, as some have suggested, usher in a regime of Police discrimination against people with different coloured skin or accents," Mr Hawkins said.

The MOU would ensure continued transparency and accuracy by police and Immigration when working together, Mr Swain said.

"Each will continue to liaise closely with the other on a range of issues including custody, removal of illegal migrants, border security and criminal investigations," he said.

It did not mean that Police would have open access to immigration files, but would allow the Service to alert Police of the immigration status of an individual.

“An example of how the services work well together was evident last week when Immigration removed 47 overstayers from the country and involved Police providing escorts on flights out of New Zealand,” Mr Swain said.

ENDS

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