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Battle against organised crime "is on every front"

King: Battle against organised crime "is on every front"

Police Minister Annette King told the Police Association conference today that she is confident that New Zealand has the strength and capacity to take on organised criminal groups whose sole ambition is to make profits out of peddling misery and fear in our society.

Ms King says Labour will "continue to crack down on organized criminal activity across a number of fronts.

"Labour is already doing just this, and we will also establish a Commission of Inquiry into Organised Criminal Gangs as a means of establishing the extent of gang involvement in organised crime."

Ms King said the commission's findings would provide an excellent stocktake of the level of organised criminal activity in New Zealand, and supplement all the measures and initiatives currently being taken. "It will only draw on the experiences of police here, but will also hear from overseas jurisdictions facing similar issues and problems.

"There has also been a whole range of local solutions put forward to dealing with criminal gang activities. We need to ensure that any future measures we put in place continue to be effective," she said.

"Labour will expect the Commission to study not only the involvement of gangs in organised crime, but also to study recruitment and other anti-societal behaviour, and will also task the Commission with determining appropriate measures to curb and control gangs."

Ms King says Labour is also committed to investigating and following the progress of South Australian gang legislation to determine if it is applicable in a New Zealand context.

Ms King said Labour is committed to passing a number of Bills including:

• The Serious Fraud Office Abolition and Transition Provisions Bill establishing an Organised Crime and Financial Agency within Police.
• The Organised Crime, Penalties and Sentencing Bill, which significantly increases the maximum penalty for participation in an organised criminal group and make such participation an aggravating factor at sentencing.
• The Criminal Proceeds Recovery Bill, which introduces a new civil forfeiture regime under which assets and profit gained from crime can be confiscated without a conviction.
• The Search and Surveillance Powers Bill to provide a coherent, consistent approach to law enforcement powers of entry, search and seizure. The law has failed to keep pace with technology, with existing legislation sanctioning law enforcement use of interception and tracking devices cumbersome and outdated. It is silent with respect to the use of visual surveillance devices.

"We will also act on a number of other fronts to combat crime, including:

• Making it easier, through the Search and Surveillance Powers Bill, to detect younger people carrying knives in a public place. Carrying knives has become fashionable amongst some young people today, and the use of knives by youth gangs has slightly increased over recent years.
• Extending to other centres the Counties Manukau community and police initiatives to respond to youth gangs.
• Encouraging government agencies and community groups to continue work in partnership to respond effectively to young offenders' psychological problems, alcohol and drug issues, educational failure and lack of employment skills.
• Establishing Drug and Alcohol Teams at a local level to coordinate a range of service to provide tailored solutions for those who commit crime to fund their drug use.
• Passing the Sale and Supply of Liquor and Liquor Enforcement Bill to make it more difficult for young persons to obtain alcohol.
• Passing the Domestic Violence Reform Bill, which will enable Police to issue interim protection orders; improve the response of the Criminal Court and the Family Court to victims of family violence; and provide better protection for children in Family Court matters.
• Introducing legislation to give effect to the recommendations of the Task Force for Action on Sexual Violence that was set up in July last year.

"Labour is committed to a modern, effective, fair and accessible justice system which makes offenders accountable, reduces offending, supports the victims of crime, and, in turn, strengthens our communities," she said.

"Every New Zealander is entitled to feel safe in their homes and in their community, but governments cannot solve all the issues in isolation. Labour believes in working with communities to make our neighbourhoods as safe as we possibly can. We all need to take responsibility in the battle against crime."


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