Crimestoppers launched in New Zealand
12 October 2009
Crimestoppers launched in New Zealand
Crimestoppers NZ will be launched today, giving New Zealanders an avenue to anonymously pass on information about crime and criminals to law enforcement agencies.
Crimestoppers NZ has been set up as a charity and is completely independent of Police and other agencies, says its CEO and former Chief of Army Lou Gardiner.
People can contact Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111 or submitting an encrypted online form via www.crimestoppers-nz.org.
"The strength of the Crimestoppers service is that people who, for various reasons, may have been reluctant to contact law enforcement agencies directly now have a safe way of doing something about family violence, drugs, gangs, fraud, dishonesty and other types of anti-social behaviour and offending.
"People don't have to reveal their identity or share any personal information. We give an absolute guarantee that calls and online reports cannot be traced. We don’t need a statement and we don’t need people to appear in court. All we want is information about the crime, not who the person with the information is," Mr Gardiner says.
Crimestoppers will also run an Integrity Line service, which organisations and businesses can sign up to. It provides a safe way for employees to anonymously report crime or other types of undesirable behaviour, which will help provide transparency to shareholders, investors and taxpayers.
The Western Union Company has joined forces with Crimestoppers NZ to roll-out a national Security Awareness and Fraud Education (SAFE) programme. The programme will involve an awareness campaign about the do's and don'ts when utilizing its money transfer services.
Crimestoppers NZ is modelled on the UK service, which has been running there successfully for more than 20 years.
Its genesis in New Zealand was the 2007 theft of 11 sets of medals from the Waiouru Army Museum.
Founder, Chairman of Crimestoppers UK and Victoria Cross collector Lord Ashcroft KCMG, helped post a reward for the return of the medals. While in New Zealand, he discussed setting up Crimestoppers here with Police Commissioner Howard Broad.
Businessman and Police advisor John Perham was asked to establish the charity in New Zealand and chair the Board of Trustees. Other trustees are Dr Allan Freeth, Chief Executive of TelstraClear, retired Assistant Police Commissioner Gavin Jones, advisor and director Phillip Meyer and CEO Lou Gardiner.
Lord Ashcroft has made the Crimestoppers UK intellectual property and branding available to Crimestoppers NZ to enable the service to quickly get off the ground.
He is confident the service will soon be as valuable in New Zealand as it is in the UK.
“During our 21 years, Crimestoppers UK has received over 1 million actionable calls which have resulted in more than 90,000 arrests and charges. Every four days someone is arrested for murder in the UK as a result of information passed to us,” Lord Ashcroft said.
Until a New Zealand call centre can be set up, calls to the Crimestoppers phone number and online crime reports will be handled by the UK Crimestoppers call centre.
Call takers will then send the anonymous information to New Zealand Police for action. Police will deal with criminal matters and pass on information about other types of offending to the appropriate enforcement agency.
"Crimestoppers does not interfere with the public's duty to come forward and give information as witnesses and many people will continue to do this," Mr Gardiner says.
"However its guarantee of anonymity will give law enforcement agencies an extra stream of information that they haven't had access to before. It will help them solve crime earlier and apprehend criminals more quickly. As a result, our communities will be safer.
"It's a very exciting development for New Zealand and New Zealanders," he says.
Crimestoppers New Zealand has been made possible by extensive support from several organisations including Chapman Tripp, Ernst and Young, Gen-i, Manukau City Council, New Zealand Police, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Quantum, St John, TelstraClear and Western Union.