Police squad to reveal Illawarra's seedy side

An Illawarra private investigator says the region's seedy underbelly will likely be exposed after NSW Police announced the formation of a new statewide organised crime squad.

The squad, with about 100 staff, came into effect on Saturday and aimed to "identify, target and investigate the state's most serious organised criminals".

Illawarra-based Overwatch Investigations director Stephen Patterson said Wollongong had its share of sophisticated crime.

"Wollongong looks pretty on the outside but it's actually a pretty nasty little town," he said.

"I love Wollongong but have a look at the drug scene ... we've got a very dirty underside and you never know until it hits the surface what's actually going on.

"I could go to Newcastle and say exactly the same thing, I could go to Melbourne, I could even go to Tamworth."

Mr Patterson pointed to the 2008 Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into Wollongong City Council as an example of what could be revealed when the city's underbelly was turned upside down.

"We haven't really had much since then but that doesn't say it's not out there," he said.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the Organised Crime Squad would embrace the work done by previous investigative teams into one unified effort.

"Just as the marketplace for legitimate business has opened up, so too has the black market," Mr Scipione said.

"Those at the top of the organised crime industry are no longer working in silos along ethnic or geographic lines; they are working across borders and interconnecting with numerous networks of criminals.

"As a result, we have taken the squads and specialised units ... most suited to major organised crime investigation and combined them into one, centralised squad."


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