Organised crime threatens NZ way of life

  • Judith Collins

Police Minister Judith Collins today declared war on organised crime, describing it as one of the biggest threats to the New Zealand way of life.

Speaking to the New Zealand Police Association Annual Conference in Wellington, Ms Collins said organised crime was becoming embedded in society and police were being given new powers to stop it.

"Traditional gang rivalries are being cast aside as they join forces to reap huge profits from the trade in methamphetamine and other criminal activity," Ms Collins said.

"No longer do gangs exist as an assertion of identity, a support group for the disenfranchised or a reflection of their members' other interests in common. They are now large criminal businesses. They exist to make money.

"Gangs have infiltrated businesses; turning legitimate enterprises into money laundering outlets.  Their money has bought them a veneer of legitimacy that is far more dangerous to our society than anything we have seen before.

"This threatens our way of life and must be stopped. We have to look at ways of preventing rivers of illegal money flowing into the bank accounts of organised crime. The time has come to put organised crime out of business."

The Government has introduced a raft of new legislation giving police the power to "hit the gangs where it hurts". One of the most powerful new tools in the police toolbox will be the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act which allows police to find and forfeit gangs' ill-gotten gains.

"We're not just going to take away their profits. We're going to use those profits against them," Ms Collins said.

"Recovered proceeds of crime that are returned to the Crown will be used to fund anti-methamphetamine initiatives.

"The message to gangs should be clear: This government is coming after your business and will use every tool we have to destroy it."