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New approach to gang harm


Posted at 2:45pm Sunday 23 Nov, 2014

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A new Gang Intelligence Centre will be at the heart of a whole-of-government approach to reducing harm caused by organised crime.

Elements of the gang strategy will take shape though 2015. Photo: Constable Shelley Richardson, Wellington Photography Section.

Analysts from police and partner agencies will use existing and new information to create gang-focused intelligence products to underpin enforcement and preventive actions.

It is one of four pillars of an action plan signed off by Cabinet before the General Election.

The others are the ‘Start at Home' programme, which will help youngsters and others distance themselves from gang environments; taskforces to disrupt gang activity; and legislation changes to support enforcement and asset seizures.

Police is the lead agency overall, with other agencies leading workstreams as appropriate, such as the Ministry of Social Development-led Start at Home package.

Inspector Rob Duindam, from the National Criminal Investigations Group, has been appointed Programme Manager. He says the approach combines prevention and enforcement and draws on the expertise of agencies including Customs, Corrections, IRD, Immigration and MSD in a new way.

“It's designed to enable the whole of government to disrupt and reduce the harm gangs pose for New Zealand,” he says.

The programme will take shape throughout 2015, with the GIC – a supervisor and seven or eight analysts – operational before year's end.

“It's not designed for instant success,” says Rob. “It's the type of programme that takes time to develop. There are many building blocks to be put in place.

“I'm confident effort over the next 12 months will provide a solid platform to disrupt gang influence on organised crime in the long term.”

Rob says another aim is to rein in gangs' negative influence on young people.

Many developments will complement, not replace, existing work. “Start at Home could dovetail into existing or new programmes. People in areas like youth, family violence, alcohol and community policing will see it coming through.”

Frontline staff should keep up the pressure while the approach is developed. “Don't stop what you're doing because you think something new is coming.

“For now it's business as usual – if you can disrupt gang-related organised crime, get stuck into it. There's a lot of important work going on. That needs to be maintained.”

The four pillars

Start at Home – prevention-focused MSD-led work with vulnerable people in gang environments: “If you feel uncomfortable and want to get out, this should enable you to do it and do it safely,” says Rob. Gang Intelligence Centre – a supervisor and seven or eight analysts, potentially from Police, Corrections, IRD, Immigration and MSD, sitting within NIC. $1.6 million available from the Justice Sector Fund for development.

Taskforces – OFCANZ-led, to target gangs trying to enter NZ, disrupt gang activities here, and seize profits through asset recovery.

Legislation – “It's a combination of really well focused enforcement with legislation to assist us, combined with more prevention opportunities.”

Story and photo courtesy of Ten One magazine.