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Crime and victims

Organised and international crime

Organised crime reaches into communities and ruins lives by driving other crime and instilling fear.

It manifests itself most graphically in drug addiction, sexual exploitation and gun crime, but is also strongly linked to:

  • immigration crime
  • fraud
  • money laundering
  • internet-related crime
  • other threats – including armed robbery, kidnap and extortion, vehicle crime, freight crime, cultural property crime, counterfeit currency and environmental crime

Organised crime groups are essentially businesses that exist to make money. Players at the top often resort to extreme violence, intimidation and corruption to protect their businesses.

These groups operate across global frontiers in tight-knit gangs, display in-depth knowledge of law enforcement methods and exploit sophisticated technologies to conceal their activities from the authorities.

We want to send the strongest possible message that we’re committed to making the UK one of the least attractive locations in the world for organised criminals to operate.

A snapshot of organised and international crime

The two most profitable and harmful enterprises controlled by organised crime groups are drugs trafficking and people smuggling.

Facts & figures

Here are some disturbing statistics illustrating the staggering economic and social impact of organised crime in this country:

  • Global profits from people smuggling are estimated to be $10 billion annually.
  • 280,000 problem drug users cause around half of all crime.
  • Every £1 spent on heroin is estimated to generate about £4 of damage to the national economy.
  • There are around 400 organised crime bosses in the UK with an amassed criminal wealth of approximately £440 million.
  • So called ‘dirty money’ - or assets derived from crime - represents around 2% of the UK’s GDP, or £18 billion – up to half of which is derived from illegal drug transactions.
  • The economic and social costs of organised crime are estimated to be at least £20-£40 billion per year.

(Source: One Step Ahead: A 21st Century Strategy to Defeat Organised Crime)

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA)

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (new window) was created in 2006 to spearhead efforts to tackle the growing problem of international crime gangs.

SOCA brings together the talents and experience of several different government agencies, and they all work together to take on drug and gun trafficking, and to focus on recovering criminal assets.

What we’re doing about organised crime cartels

Legislative changes made in the last few years mean SOCA and other law enforcement agencies are now fighting organised crime more effectively.

They have the power to:

  • seize the profits of criminal activities and redirect a proportion of them back into law enforcement
  • compel co-operation with investigators, so that suspects and their associates have to surrender relevant documents to investigators when requested
  • intercept user logs and emails of suspected criminals
  • impose conditions on convicted organised criminals post-release, such as tighter restrictions on where they travel and who they associate with
  • use incentives such as sentence reductions to encourage criminals to inform on their associates

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