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Keeping crime down

Crime and victims

Serious and organised crime

Organised crime reaches into communities and ruins lives, instilling fear and fuelling other crimes.

Organised crime groups are similar to businesses in that they exist to make money. But the criminals involved often resort to extreme violence, intimidation and corruption to protect their criminal enterprises.

These groups operate across international boundaries. They take advantage of major current trends – the economic downturn, new technologies, and globalisation – to commit their crimes and to conceal their activities from the authorities.

Organised crime is traditionally associated with gun and drug-related crime. In fact, these groups engage in a wide range of crimes, including:

  • immigration crime – people smuggling and human trafficking, including for sexual exploitation 
  • fraud – against individuals, businesses and the government 
  • money laundering – including to hide the criminal origins of their profits 
  • internet-related crime
  • other threats – including armed robbery, kidnap and extortion, vehicle crime, freight crime, theft of art and other cultural artefacts, counterfeiting and environmental crime

The total cost of the social and economic harm caused to the UK by serious organised crime is in the region of £30bn a year. Its victims range from those whose lives are ruined by drug addiction, to women who are trafficked for sexual exploitation, to businesses who suffer losses from fraud or are forced to close in the face of illegal competition. The effects on our neighbourhoods and communities are very real.

Fighting organised crime in the 21st century

We are committed to making the UK one of the most hostile environments in the world for organised criminals to operate.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) (new window), the police and other law enforcement agencies have made significant progress in the fight against organised crime. However, serious organised crime continues to evolve and so must our efforts to fight it. 

This is why, in July 2009, in conjunction with Cabinet Office, we published a refreshed strategy for tackling serious organised crime, called Extending our reach: A comprehensive approach to tackling serious organised crime.

Our updated strategy sets out the reforms we will make to ensure that the government, law enforcement agencies, businesses and the public have the necessary tools to reduce the harm caused by organised crime. We will go further than ever before to stop organised criminals.

Four key approaches

We will:

  • take action against all known organised criminals – those at the top who have previously proved ‘hard to touch’, as well as the ‘lower level’ criminals who support them 
  • use whichever tools work best to have maximum impact
  • make sure that the whole of government plays its part in the fight against organised crime 
  • form stronger partnerships against organised crime – with our international partners overseas, and with businesses and the public at home

Serious organised crime threatens our safety, damages our communities and subverts our economy. The scale, scope and sophistication of serious organised crime in the 21st century demand an equally sophisticated and ambitious response from government to tackle it. 

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