19/06/2006

NI Criminal Justice System report published

The third annual report of the organised crime task force has today revealed that fuel smuggling and laundering has cost Northern Ireland public almost £250 million over the past year.

The report, of the Criminal Justice System Northern Ireland (CJSNI), also revealed that £50 million was seized from criminals.

Security Minister and Chair of the Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF), Paul Goggins said that "everyone is a victim of organised crime but everyone can play their part in ridding society of this scourge."

Mr Goggins was speaking today at the launch of a major public awareness campaign into the effects of organised crime in Northern Ireland, at which the successes against and continuing threat posed by it were outlined.

The Minister said: "Organised crime is big business in Northern Ireland and it’s our job to put it out of business.

"Make no mistake, organised crime is harmful and impacts on every man woman and child. It creates victims in every part of the community, from shop keepers robbed at gunpoint, to families destroyed by drugs, to citizens whose safety and livelihoods are jeopardised by counterfeit goods or extortionists.

"The Government through the OCTF is totally committed to relentlessly pursuing organised criminals from whatever source."

Mr Goggins added: "In the last year, over £7 million worth of drugs and almost £10 million worth of counterfeit goods have been taken off our streets, and over £30 million worth of criminal assets have been restrained, confiscated or seized. But good as the results are we are not complacent.

"I believe that the support of the public is vital to creating a society free from the blight of organised crime, a society in which we accept the shared responsibility for tackling it.

"I firmly believe that by working together - by combining effective enforcement with ongoing public support and collective responsibility - we will bear down on criminals and together we can rid our society of the economic and human costs of organised crime."

Criminal Justice Minister, David Hanson who unveiled the report said that the achievements to date of the reformed criminal justice system must be built upon to deliver further improvements and enhance confidence levels across the whole community.

Mr Hanson said: "This report shows the excellent work that has been done throughout the criminal justice system in the last year. The outworking of the Criminal Justice Review has continued unabated with one of the most significant structural reforms in the Northern Ireland criminal justice system over the last 60 years taking place in June 2005 with the launch of the new Public Prosecution Service (PPSNI)."

Mr Hanson continued: "These measures demonstrate that criminal justice agencies in Northern Ireland are working in partnership with each other, and with the public, to tackle the issues that are of real concern to the people of Northern Ireland. It is by working together that we will reduce crime and build confidence in the criminal justice system."

Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Professor Sir Desmond Rea, who also attended the launch, praised the the work of the PSNI and partner agencies in the fight against organised crime.

He said: “Organised crime is an area of great concern to the Policing Board. The smuggling of fuel and tobacco, counterfeiting, drugs, extortion, armed robbery and money laundering affect communities across Northern Ireland and have a major impact on our economy."

Sir Desmond said that District Policing Partnerships had an important role to play in engaging with local people in order to raise their awareness of this important issue and gain their cooperation in preventing organised crime.

Hew said: "By engaging with their DPP and local police, the public have a real opportunity to assist in putting a stop to organised crime and to make their communities safer for everyone.”

(EF/SP)

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