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Organised crime has significant cross-border dimension

08 Nov 2018 / policing Print

Crime gangs' 'significant cross-border dimension'

Some 43% of organised crime gangs in the North have a cross-border dimension, Justice minister Charlie Flanagan says.

The figures from the Cross-Border Threat Assessment, jointly collected by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and An Garda Síochána analysis units, were revealed at a joint north-south security conference on 7 November.

The Minister for Justice opened the 16thAnnual Cross Border Conference on Organised Crime at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co Down. 

Mobile gangs

He said that mobile organised crime groups responsible for multiple instances of domestic burglary operate on an all-island basis.

And there are increasing instances of borderless crimes, such as cyber fraud and international terrorism, he said.

No hard border

But the Irish Government is determined that there will be no hard border and no return to “daily violence which pertained for over 25 years, and we have secured agreement on this from our EU partners and the UK Government,” the minister stated.

The ‘Shared Problems, Shared Solutions’ conference heard from the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, and the PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin.

There is also representation from An Garda Síochána, the PSNI, Revenue Commissioners, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), and the National Crime Agency (NCA). 

Senior officials

Senior officials from the Department of Justice and Equality, and the Department of Justice, Northern Ireland, attended the conference. 

The stark report also reveals that Brexit also threatens to add to cross-border criminality. 

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris told yesterday’s conference that legal underpinnings are essential in the fight against cross-border crime.

Measures such as the European Arrest Warrant allow north-south information-sharing, and are crucial to keeping the public safe, he said.

“We will be redoubling our efforts around the cross-border strategy,” he told the conference, pledging that any gap in policing powers would be eliminated.

The report also reveals that the increased availability of firearms on the dark web is a security threat, as well as online radicalisation by terrorist groups.

CTA changes due to Brexit

The document points to a change in the “overall operation” of the Common Travel Area (CTA) as an inevitable result of Brexit.

The north-south border runs to 360km with numerous unmarked crossings.

Smuggling foreign nationals into Britain will become more lucrative after Brexit, according to Garda sources, and beefed-up security and immigration checks will be essential in the CTA.

Ireland has been the scene of numerous bogus marriages, gardaí say, with 200 deportation orders issued on foot of marriages of convenience to secure residence rights.

Cocaine use, meanwhile, is back at Celtic Tiger levels, in line with increased disposable income as the economy recovers, the report shows.

“The improving economic resurgence in the Republic has led to a demand for so-called ‘party drugs’ such as cocaine and MDMA,” the Garda document warns.

Heroin consumption has doubled outside of Dublin, with use falling back slightly in the capital between 2001 and 2014, the report says. 

Finally, a new garda dispatch system will be rolled out next year. The new Computer Aided Dispatch has been likened to an ‘Uber for gardai’.

Currently, the nearest gardaí to a crime scene do not always get dispatched there, due to divisional boundary issues in rural areas. 

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