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Budget 2004 Police to form national security teams

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Hon George Hawkins Minister of Police

18 May 2004

Budget 2004 Police to form national security teams

New Zealand's counter-terrorism capacity will be boosted by the formation of dedicated national security teams, Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Police Minister George Hawkins announced today. Budget 2004 provides $14.8 million over the next four years to allow 35 additional Police (28 sworn and 7 non-sworn staff) to be deployed for specific national security duties during the current financial year.

The majority (24 sworn and 5 non-sworn staff) will go to units that will conduct investigative and intelligence-related work. An identity fraud team and a South and West Pacific Police liaison post in Suva will also be established.

"Police is the lead operational agency for gathering intelligence, and investigating and responding to national security issues where criminal activity, including terrorism, is known or suspected," Mr Hawkins said.

"The demand for such work has grown significantly since the September 11 attacks, and all indications are that, in line with overseas experiences, the workload will continue to increase.

"The government has already strengthened the Police's ability to respond to national security threats, by giving them wider powers and by establishing a national Strategic Intelligence Unit (SIU).

"However, investigations generated by SIU intelligence are still done at the Police District level, where it has impacted on the policing of lower-priority crimes. Establishing dedicated national security teams will address that pressure.

"Maintaining New Zealand's international reputation by protecting the integrity of our identify documents is also critical, especially as identity fraud is increasing in significance globally, and is linked to other criminal activities, including terrorism.

"New Zealand passports are highly prized by transnational criminals, in part because of the visa-free arrangements we enjoy with many countries.

"In the past, cases were dealt with as they arose. Establishing an identity fraud team will allow Police to develop greater expertise in this area and ensure effective links with border security agencies are maintained," Mr Hawkins said. Mr Goff said the Police liaison office in Suva reflected the need to be better connected to the regional security environment.

"The Pacific is not immune to transnational crime, people smuggling, drug trafficking, or even terrorism, and a strong, multi-national response is needed.

"The liaison post will ensure there is regular contact with other law enforcement agencies in the South and West Pacific. That contact will help build the high level of trust that is essential for the sharing of intelligence.

"Information provided by the post will also be useful for developing initiatives to be financed by the government's Pacific Security Fund, which was set up last year and will receive a further $12 million over four years in Budget 2004.

"The liaison office also reflects the increasing involvement of Police in regional initiatives such as in the Solomon Islands, Bougainville, and the Pacific Regional Policing Initiative. Our officers do a superb job on these missions, but we need to continue to ensure our work is closely coordinated with that of other countries," Mr Goff said.

ENDS


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