The Organised Crime Task Force released it’s annual report yesterday. Maybe its time people step back from entrenched attitudes of ‘it must be right if our ones are doing it’. Perhaps the question needs to be asked ‘Are we creating a society that will ultimately be unpoliceable and ungovernable?’
According to the Belfast Telegraph ‘The report urges the public to be aware that there are no victimless crimes and demonstrates the successes law enforcement agencies have had in tackling the scams which deprive the local economy of millions.
The report assesses the amount of income which the Government and public and private businesses are being deprived of through criminal gangs based in and operating from Northern Ireland:
* Intellectual property crime (counterfeiting) is estimated to cost the local economy £200m a year. Goods recovered have included power tools, batteries, toys, condoms and veterinary drugs. Counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol, widely sold at local markets, are potentially lethal;
* Police seized drugs worth £7m in the last financial year. While the scale of the drug problem is not as great as the rest of the UK or Ireland there is growing indication of a rise in demand and availability of cocaine. Seizures of the killer drug have soared by 800% since 2002/2003;
* 30m of criminal assets were restrained or confiscated by police, customs or the Assets Recovery Agency;
* 35m illegal cigarettes were seized in the province by customs officials;
* Environmental crimes such as illegal dumping are worth at least £25m a year;
* Extortion generates in excess of £10m criminal profit a year;
* Fuel smuggling and legitimate cross-border shopping costs the local economy £245m a year.
Security Minister Paul Goggins said: “Organised crime creates victims across the spectrum, from shopkeepers robbed at gunpoint, to families destroyed by drugs. It 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.”