The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has announced $64 million joint police taskforce to tackle gang crime.
Seventy members of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and state police officers will join with staff from the Australian Crime Commission, Australian Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink.
The government will also establish the Australian Gang Intelligence Centre (AGIC).
The program is aimed at seizing gang assets and disrupting criminal networks.
Gillard made the announcement today at a press conference with Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare and AFP Commissioner Tony Negus.
- Listen to Gillard’s press conference (35m)
Statement from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
National Anti-Gang Taskforce: Federal and State Agencies To Work Together To Tackle Gang Crime
A National Anti-Gang Taskforce will be established to fight gang-related crime across Australia.
The $64 million Taskforce will be made up of 70 members from the Australian Federal Police and State Police forces and will also include officers from the Australian Crime Commission, Australian Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink.
The National Anti-Gang Taskforce will:
- Directly target, investigate and arrest gang members in Australia;
- Provide State and Federal law enforcement agencies with intelligence on gangs across Australia and overseas;
- Provide State and Territory Police with better access to key federal agencies like the Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, to get the information they need to make arrests;
- Investigate the activities of Australian based gangs overseas and the link to crime back in Australia; and
- Work with international law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, the United States bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Interpol to exchange intelligence and conduct joint operations.
A new Australian Gang Intelligence Centre (AGIC) will also be established to provide national criminal intelligence on gang activity across Australia and its links overseas.
Strike Teams will be established in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Liaison officers will be established in Adelaide, Darwin and Perth.
The Strike Teams will be made up of Australian Federal Police members, State and Territory Police officers and Australian Taxation Office officials. They will work with State and Territory police to target gangs, conduct investigations and make arrests.
The Strike Teams will be supported by physical and technical surveillance teams in Sydney and Melbourne to collect and provide valuable intelligence on the activities of gang members.
Because criminals organise, recruit and communicate online, the Strike Teams will also include Cyber Investigators.
The AFP Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce will support the Strike Teams through asset confiscation in relation to gang related crimes.
All of these teams will be mobile and flexible. They will be able to be deployed anywhere in the country dependent on intelligence leads.
The National Taskforce has been developed following consultations between the Australian Federal Police and State and Federal agencies. The Australian Federal Police has consulted with State and Territory Police Forces on how federal law enforcement agencies can assist them in the important work they do.
The Taskforce is based on the FBI’s Violent Gang Safe Street Taskforce model that has resulted in over 55,000 arrests in the United States since 2001. The FBI Safe Street Taskforce is built on co-operation between local, state and federal investigators.
Australia already uses this model for counter terrorism and to target crime at the border.
In 2010 the Federal Government established Taskforce Polaris to investigate organised crime on the waterfront in Sydney. It involves officers from the Australian Federal Police and the New South Wales Police Force as well as officers from Customs, the Australian Crime Commission and the New South Wales Crime Commission.
Polaris has resulted so far in 34 arrests, 154 charges laid and more than 12 tonnes of illicit substances seized.
It is now being expanded to Melbourne and Brisbane. It commenced in Melbourne late last year and is called Operation Trident. It will begin in Brisbane in July this year and will be called Operation Jericho.
The taskforce will commence operations on July 1 and be fully operational by 1 January 2014.