Police Commissioner welcomes funding for anti-drug measures
Police Commissioner welcomes funding for anti-drug initiatives
Commissioner Mike Bush welcomes the Prime Minister’s decision to fund four initiatives submitted by Police under the 2016 allocation of funding through the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009.
In this latest round of funding, Police have receive just over $6.2 million for initiatives focused on stopping the manufacture of precursor and illicit drugs at the source in Southern China, the expansion of asset recovery and financial investigations, recovery of legal costs, and a joint initiative with Health focusing on methamphetamine demand reduction in Northland.
“As we know, illicit drugs can cause significant harm, not only for the person using it, but for their family, friends and wider community, and it is also a driver of other crimes including burglary and assaults,” says Mr Bush.
“Police and our partner agencies continue to work hard to reduce the effect of drugs on our communities.
The 2016 allocation of criminal proceeds will not only assist in reducing the demand of drugs here in NZ, but work towards disrupting the source of illegal substances overseas.”
Prevention at Source Project
Police have also been allocated funding for the Prevention at Source Project aimed at identifying and stopping precursors and illicit drugs at their source in South China.
“Police have two China based liaison officers who come under the umbrella of the International Services Group at PNHQ and are supported by locally engaged staff,” says Mr Bush.
“Part of these roles is to provide reports on current and emerging drug trends.
These are sent to the multi-agency National Drug Intelligence Bureau and other groups to help inform agencies on these trends.”
On top of these reports, intelligence and evidence from prosecutions for importations into New Zealand indicates that some of the drugs and chemicals that arrive illegally in New Zealand originate from southern China.
“These drugs include precursor chemicals for methamphetamine manufacture, methamphetamine and chemicals used for the manufacture of new psychoactive substances.
“All of our Police Liaison Officers overseas play a key role in ensuring Police are both able to understand international trends, as well as respond to them in a timely and effective manner.”
Expansion of asset recovery and financial investigations
“Our Asset Recovery Units have an all of government mandate to undertake the restraint and forfeiture of criminally acquired or derived assets, not just for Police, but also for all Government law enforcement agencies,” says Mr Bush.
These agencies include, but are not limited to, Inland Revenue, Customs, NZ Immigration, the Ministry of Social Development, the Serious Fraud Office, and ACC.
“Through our Asset Recovery Unit, we have restrained and secured the forfeiture of over $390 million worth of cash and assets under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act since it was enacted in 2009.
“The recovery and forfeiture of assets under the Act is an important preventative tool as it is a key tactic in disrupting organised crime and stopping the criminals who benefit from these illegal activities, reinforcing the message that crime doesn’t pay.
“The recovered and forfeited assets go straight back into initiatives that prevent the harm caused by methamphetamine and other illicit substances in our communities.”
According to the Proceeds of Crime Disruption Index, which seeks to evaluate the CPRA’s impact, $1 in criminal assets restrained equates to $3.30 in social harm prevented, rising to $3.50 for each dollar forfeited.
This means the $226 million restrained and $138 million forfeited since 2009 has saved communities from a potential $1.23 billion burden.
Northland initiative to reduce methamphetamine
This joint initiative with the Ministry of Health will bring together prevention, treatment and care to create a holistic process around the use of methamphetamine in communities in Northland.
While police are committed to stopping the supply of methamphetamine, we are also looking at ways to reduce its use in the community.
By doing this, demand will decrease resulting in our communities being safer.
“As part of the new pilot programme, Police will work with Health in identifying users at the receiving end of the drug chain so they can be offered the full range of support available,” says Mr Bush.
“Drug dealers constantly exploit those who are addicted and drive them to commit more crime to fund their habit.
“The impact of methamphetamine in our communities is large and we will do what they can to take out any supply network and reduce that impact.”
Police and Health are still in the early stages of developing this initiative, and more detailed information will be available in due course.
Recovery of costs
As Police have an all of government mandate to undertake the restraint and forfeiture of assets, this funding goes directly towards the recovery of legal costs for civil actions under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009.
By recovering these costs, Police are able to continue to target criminals and disrupt organised crime from benefiting from the illegal proceeds of crime.