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Risk Response Group Launched

Risk Response Group Launched

The New Zealand Customs Service’s new Risk Response Group formally begins operating today.

The Risk Response Group, of 28 officers nationwide, will be available at a moment’s notice to check out ships, aircraft or small vessels identified as high risk by Customs intelligence unit.

“The way we’ve organised this new group means we are much better placed to be able to respond more quickly and more effectively,” says Customs National Manager Air and Marine John Secker.

“The Risk Response Group is a combination of experienced Customs officers, many of whom have been doing similar work for years, and new recruits with valuable skills such as launchmasters and divers.”

“We’ve been able to create a number of new positions using funding from the Government’s counter-terrorism package.”

The Risk Response Group will operate from Customs Patrol Boat Hawk as well as on land. It will also take part in multi-agency operations. For example, should a vessel carrying illegal migrants arrive in New Zealand waters, this group will lead the response, working alongside other agencies.

“For Customs to be able to successfully identify and respond to risks, we need as much information as possible, especially from those working at and around our ports and airports. One of the specific tasks of Risk Response Group officers will be building relationships, especially with others working in the maritime sector.

“We will also continue our important Coastwatch programme, which provides links to coastal residents, iwi groups, and others with knowledge of our coastline. We need everyone’s input, especially when it comes to monitoring the remote harbours and airstrips of New Zealand.

“This new group is not the whole solution to managing risk, because our resources are still limited. But we believe this is an important new step towards better protecting New Zealand,” says John Secker.

The Risk Response Group will be launched with a formal ceremony including a maori blessing at 3.15 pm today.

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