Everyone has role to play in tackling organised crime - Sugden

Date published: 05 December 2016

People who purchase counterfeit goods are unwittingly funding organised crime – including those with links to paramilitaries, the Justice Minister said today.

Speaking in advance of the launch of a new hard hitting advertising campaign, Minister Claire Sugden said that every penny spent on counterfeit goods is helping to line the pockets of those who are set on destroying our communities.    

Urging the public to ‘End the Harm’, the Minister said: “We need everyone’s support to tackle the scourge of organised crime. If you buy even one counterfeit top, or one bottle of fake perfume, you are unwittingly funding the work of organised crime groups."

It is estimated that there are currently 138 organised crime groups operating within Northern Ireland; who are involved in the supply of counterfeit goods including makeup, toiletries, alcohol, car parts and toys, the sales of which are not only funding criminal activity, but the goods themselves are also potentially harmful to those who use them.

The advertising campaign is part of the Fresh Start Agreement and the Executive action plan on tackling paramilitary activity.

The Minister said: “The campaign is part of the Executive’s much wider drive to rid Northern Ireland of the scourge of paramilitarism.

“It stems from the Fresh Start Agreement which led to a detailed report by a three person independent panel and an agreed Executive action plan.

“Work this year includes additional funding for forensic science, work to reduce re-offending and speeding up the delivery of justice. We are also working closely with law enforcement agencies to develop a range of detailed initiatives.”

The Minister said there are no quick fixes to the problem of ridding society of organised crime gangs and the Executive cannot do it on their own.

She added: “This requires political, policing and community support. 

"People in Northern Ireland need to make a choice; turn a blind eye to criminality or take a stand and say no to those who are set on inflicting harm on our communities. I would encourage anyone with information to contact the PSNI or Crimestoppers anonymously.”  

Gary Reid, PSNI Detective Superintendent Reactive and Organised Crime said: “Police need the support of the community to help tackle this hidden crime. It is not harmless and there are real victims as a consequence of peoples actions in buying such products. We hope that this campaign will help educate people about the ramifications of the harm caused as a result of inadvertently supporting organised crime gangs through what might seem harmless purchases.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The campaign will include TV, radio, press, outdoor and social media advertising using the hashtag #EndTheHarmNI 
  2. The campaign is being supported by the PSNI, HMRC and Policing  and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSPs) across Northern Ireland.
  3. More information on the campaign can be found at: www.nidirect.gov.uk/endtheharmni
  4.  All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office on 028 90526444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.

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