Customs launches outreach campaign

Customs have launched a new outreach campaign to encourage members of the public to report potential suspicious activities.

Minister of Customs, Meka Whaitiri officially launched the new outreach campaign on Friday, which will run nationwide and focus on the coastline, sea ports, marinas, airports, and Customs-controlled Areas such as international freight arrival and storage points.

It aims to educate people who work or live in these areas about what cross-border criminal activities look like, and encourage them to report it through a confidential 24/7 hotline 0800 WE PROTECT or to someone in their local Customs team.

“The Border Protect campaign is for people who are a part of certain industries and communities, and explains how they can help to identify possible cross-border crimes such as drug smuggling and help protect our whānau,” said Minister Whaitiri.

“We know that criminals have continued their illicit drug trade, despite COVID-19, and are agile in adapting their smuggling methods. For this reason, Customs must remain vigilant – and this is where everyone can play a part,” she said. 

“Even a small snippet of information, no matter how trivial it might seem, could fit into a bigger puzzle and be exactly what law enforcement agencies were seeking to take down the criminal network involved – you could make a real difference. 

“Illicit drugs harm our whānau, our businesses and our way of life, with some of our most vulnerable communities being the most affected. In addition to the Government’s health-based initiatives, Customs’ role remains critical in order to disrupt the supply of illegal drugs from reaching our shores.

Speaking to community and industry representatives at the launch, Minister Whaitiri said that Northland remained a key focus for Customs as it has one of the most accessible parts of New Zealand’s coastline.