Tackling organised crime and bringing those behind it before the courts remains a priority for the Department of Justice, Naomi Long has said.
Launching two consultations – one seeking views on proposals for new organised crime offences for Northern Ireland and the other on a draft Organised Crime Strategy for Northern Ireland – the Justice Minister said: “Organised crime causes harm, misery and fear within our communities. When I took the Justice portfolio, I said that addressing these issues was a priority for me and that very much remains the case.
“The consultations I am launching today seek views on a range of proposals to reinforce the response to organised crime through the introduction of specific legislative provisions, including a statutory definition of serious organised crime and new offences of directing organised crime; participating in organised crime and provision for relevant offences aggravated by connection with organised crime.”
Naomi Long added: “These new powers would ensure that law enforcement in Northern Ireland is able to avail of robust and appropriate legislative tools to investigate, disrupt, prosecute and bring to justice those involved in serious organised crime. I want to send a strong message to criminals that the harm they cause to individuals and communities within Northern Ireland will not be tolerated.”
The proposed new offences are part of a wider strategic approach to tackling serious organised crime set out in a new draft strategy, also being consulted upon, which has been developed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) following discussions with operational partners. It is informed by consideration of Northern Ireland and UK threat assessments and encompasses work to tackle the wide range of organised criminality the Department and its partners are committed to delivering over the next three years.