Belfast Telegraph

MPs urge public to have say as they probe the threat of organised crime gangs here

Northern Ireland recently experienced a spate of ATM thefts
Northern Ireland recently experienced a spate of ATM thefts

By Mairead Holland

The growing problem of organised crime gangs (OCGs) in Northern Ireland is to be investigated by a Westminster committee, with the public urged to have their say.

In the past year Northern Ireland has seen a spate of suspected gang-related crimes, including eight thefts of cash machines.

Such gangs are also involved in smuggling, human trafficking and money laundering.

The investigation by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee will examine the 'drivers' behind organised crime and its impact on communities.

In particular, it will focus on cross-border criminality and international networks.

Chairman of the committee, Simon Hoare MP, said: "Organised crime gangs present a significant and growing threat to Northern Ireland.

"This year's disturbing spate of ATM thefts in Northern Ireland indicates how these gangs are adopting extreme new techniques to maximise financial gains and evade capture by law enforcement.

"It is essential that we understand why OCGs are increasing in number, who is joining them and how organised crime gangs use international networks to facilitate their criminal activities."

He added: "The committee's inquiry will examine how organised crime gangs currently operate within Northern Ireland and across the border and how leaving the EU might impact gang crime and policing."

In 2018, the PSNI and Garda published a joint report on cross-border organised crime, which detailed smuggling of illegal goods, human trafficking and data crime.

The inquiry will also look at money laundering and the role of technology and the 'dark web'.

The committee is inviting written evidence on a range of questions including the main types of criminal activities and where the proceeds go, as well as how gangs use the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and the Common Travel Area (CTA), which comprises Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

It is also asking how Brexit could affect the co-operation of the PSNI and Garda in disrupting the gangs' activities and how the UK can prepare for this.

Anyone can submit written evidence as long as it is clear, concise, addresses the terms of reference and is not already published elsewhere.

Evidence can come from an individual, a group or an organisation. It is not necessary to answer all the questions.

  • Log on to www.parliament.uk and go to the committees link. The closing date for submissions is Tuesday, August 27.

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