Govt takes further action against gang crime

  • Hon Poto Williams
  • Hon Kris Faafoi

The Government will make it illegal for high risk people to own firearms by introducing Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs) that will strengthen action already taken to combat the influence of gangs and organised crime to help keep New Zealanders and their families safe, Police Minister Poto Williams and Justice Minister Kris Faafoi have announced.

“It is no secret that gun crime is an increasing concern to our communities and we need to take further action to make sure New Zealanders and their families are kept safe,” Police Minister Poto Williams said.

“It is a privilege, not a right, to own or use a gun in this country and we need to take that ability out of the hands of people who pose a threat to our communities.

FPOs will protect the public from harm by prohibiting high-risk people from accessing, being around, or using firearms. Breaching the conditions of a Firearms Prohibition Order will be a criminal offence.

“This Government is very clear that violent gangs and other criminals cannot continue to threaten, intimidate, and exploit our communities. Firearms Prohibition Orders provide an extra tool for Police to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, and to keep our communities safe.

“This complements work this Government has already taken, including a record investment in Police meaning we have been able to go hard against gangs and organised crime networks. We have the largest Police workforce ever, with 700 officers to be focused on organised crime.

Alongside this, the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act will be amended to introduce a new power enabling seizure of assets of those associated with organised crime – where the person’s known legitimate income is likely to have been insufficient to acquire the asset.

“We’re hitting gangs where it hurts – their pockets. This new organised crime power will help prevent those involved in organised crime from benefitting from crime and remove the primary reason for organised crime to exist – the profits they can make from vulnerable New Zealanders,” Kris Faafoi said.

“Those involved in organised crime, including those who launder their money, would have to demonstrate their assets were obtained legitimately.

“These reforms signal that those who choose to be associated with groups actively undertaking criminal activities in our communities are liable to have their property subject to investigation by the Commissioner of Police and risk wider asset forfeiture,” said Kris Faafoi.

Police have a proven track record in restraining and recovering proceeds of crime with over $1billion restrained since the legislation came into being, and this amendment to the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act will enhance this capacity

“Through Labour’s record investment in more police, we are seeing more investigators and specialists focusing on serious and organised crime, at national and district level,” Poto Williams said.

“Labour’s record investment in Police has supported Police to undertake investigations such as Operation Tauwhiro, a national operation launched by Police in February targeting the disruption and prevention of firearms-related violence by criminal gangs and organised criminal groups. Since Operation Tauwhiro launched in February, 350 firearms have been seized, along with $2.46 million in cash. 378 people have been arrested in relation to firearms offences,” Poto Williams said.

Both the Firearms Prohibition Order Bill, and the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Amendment Bill will be introduced into the House before the end of the year, and the public will have an opportunity to comment on the bills when they are referred to select committee.

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