Key Points:

Few people, if any, would argue with the need for police and other government agencies to get tough on organised crime.

When our newspapers are full of stories of gang violence, the scourge of methamphetamine, and tales of "drug-fuelled" offending, a strong police response is both expected and widely supported.

Regardless of their means of operation, or their criminal activity of choice, organised crime groups exist for a single purpose - to make money.

And they are doing it in increasingly sophisticated ways. The days when criminal gang activity focused around antisocial behaviour, alcohol abuse and violence are long gone. So, too, are the days when outlaw motorcycle gangs and ethnic gangs operated in isolation from each other.

Just as their activities now span the full gamut of criminality, from drug manufacture and aggravated robbery through to extortion and money laundering, their paths cross more in collaboration than in conflict.

There is increasing convergence between criminals who come from a background in violence and drug dealing, and those who would attempt to use legitimate business to disguise their illegal activities. There is also an increasing international element to their activities.

The intention of Organised & Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (Ofcanz) is to better protect New Zealanders from this and the more insidious threats such as cybercrime, paedophilia, and trans-national crime.

One of the keys to the agency's success will be the ability to focus the resources and capability of the Government's enforcement agencies in more co-ordinated and targeted ways.

Ofcanz enables a more "end-to-end approach", targeting not just organised criminal activity in our communities but also tackling the international perspective through links with overseas partners.

Most, if not all, organised crime activities have a financial element to them. Identification and disruption of the money trails which are the lifeblood of organised crime is a powerful tactic in curbing these criminal enterprises.

Police and those that we work with across Government already have considerable expertise in this area, whether through the investigation of complex fraud or the unpicking of a web of false identities being used to claim bogus benefits and allowances.

Police already deal with more than 12,000 fraud cases a year. We maintain the proceeds of crime units, the financial intelligence unit and work in conjunction with the regulatory authorities such as the Companies Office and the Securities Commission.

Since the inception of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), both agencies have investigated financial crime with the SFO focusing more on high-value, more complex cases. Suggestions of a "turf" war between the agencies are way off the mark.

By combining information from police intelligence networks with that from other agencies, linking into our covert and electronic surveillance, and using multi-agency task forces co-ordinated through the Organised and Financial Crime Agency we can have far greater impact than operating alone.

It is the desire to focus the efforts of the best financial investigators from across the enforcement sector, which put the "F" in Ofcanz. Taking a more targeted and co-ordinated approach gives us the best chance to "cut off the money trail".

The agency is now at the point where its focus areas have been identified, and we are in the process of setting up investigative teams. Detecting and disrupting the financial dealings of organised criminals will be a key tactic of those teams.

In the past 18 months, police and SFO staff have put considerable effort into increasing collaboration and co-operation. This is based on a shared understanding of the important roles both agencies play in combating the full spectrum of financial crimes.

This process will continue regardless of which agency the resources and expertise are located under.

* Rob Pope is the deputy commissioner of NZ Police.