US expert to advise Reid on fighting crime

 

A distinguished US expert on organised crime, Prof Ronald Goldstock, has taken up his appointment as the Northern Ireland Secretary's special adviser, writes Monika Unsworth.

During the next 12 months or so, Prof Goldstock will have the task of advising Dr John Reid on how to secure cross-community support for action against organised crime. He will also look at the work of the North's Organised Crime Task Force, which was set up 18 months ago and is headed by the security minister, Ms Jane Kennedy.

Dr Reid said tackling organised crime was one of his priorities. "Prof Goldstock will report directly to me on the effect that organised crime has in Northern Ireland - in particular, by hindering the transition to a responsible civic society."

Prof Goldstock served for 13 years as director of the New York State Organised Crime Task Force, where he was involved in investigating Mafia activities and pursuing notable drug and money-laundering cases.

Prof Goldstock told The Irish Times yesterday he wished to examine four major strands during his time in the North.

"Firstly, there are the organised crime groups themselves and, secondly, the activities in which they engage. How is it that people can get into those criminal activities and what kinds of profits are available?

"The third thing are the laws and structures in place and those that might be needed to deal with the problem. Fortunately, the Organised Crime Task Force already in place is very helpful.

"Lastly, there is the issue of cross-community support - figuring out how people cannot only support the government, but in some cases become actively involved in fighting organised crime."

Prof Goldstock said he was not expecting to produce a report containing all the answers but suggest ways of approaching various issues connected with organised crime.

"I see this as a process rather than a product."