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Police Association President Greg O’Connor today welcomed the announcement by Police Minister Hon Annette King that Labour, if re-elected, will hold a Commission of Inquiry into Organised Crime. The Minister made the announcement at the Police Association’s Annual Conference in Wellington this morning.
“The Police Association has been calling for a Commission of Inquiry into Organised Crime for several years now,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The response in the past has generally been that an inquiry wouldn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. Unfortunately, that is wishful thinking. We simply don’t know the full extent of organised crime penetration in New Zealand."
“But we do know we have a serious and growing problem with a violent street gang culture, especially amongst Maori and Pacific youth. We also know that traditional gangs such as the motorcycle gangs, ethnic gangs, and now the Asian organised crime influence, have extended their influence beyond the ‘poorer end of town’ on the back of the ‘P’ trade, and traditional rivalries are being replaced by syndication and franchising."
“Gangs are getting smarter, richer, their sphere of influence is growing by the day, and the threat they pose is becoming ever more insidious."
“Police are very good at investigating specific cases and have made some real inroads into specific gangs recently. But what we have lacked is the ability to build a real picture of the depth and breadth of the organised crime problem.
“A properly empowered inquiry, with commissioners empowered to compel evidence from the key players in organised crime – under shield of indemnity or anonymity, if necessary – will give us that big picture,” Mr O’Connor said.
“It will allow us to consider evidence on ways to tackle the threat, including drawing on experience from Australia and elsewhere, and produce meaningful recommendations to tackle the problem in a coordinated way."
“We applaud the Minister for having the courage to recognise, that this is an inquiry New Zealand must now conduct. We will be watching with keen interest the reactions of other parties to this morning’s announcement,” Mr O’Connor said.
For further comment contact:
Greg O’Connor, NZ Police Association President, (027) 268 9400