Government launches new strategy to tackle serious and organised crime
The Home Office has launched a new strategy today (November 1) aimed at tackling the growth of serious and organised crime – now seen as a greater threat to the UK than terrorism.
The Serious and Organised Crime Strategy sets out how the government will build the UK’s defences against serious and organised crime, track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
According to the National Crime Agency there are around 4,600 serious and organised crime groups in the UK. These criminals use violence and intimidation in communities to operate, preying on the most vulnerable in society, from victims of modern slavery and human trafficking to young people suffering sexual exploitation and abuse.
The strategy is backed by funding of at least £48 million in 2019 to 2020 to further ramp up law enforcement capabilities to specifically tackle illicit finance.
In a speech delivered on Thursday morning at The Shard in central London, Minister for Security and Economic Crime Ben Wallace said: “Serious and organised crime is the deadliest and most damaging national security threat faced by the UK. It undermines our economy, damages our international reputation and has a corrosive effect on individuals and communities. Many serious and organised criminals think they are above the law. This strategy is determined to challenge that assertion.”
“Our new strategic approach not only improves our government and law enforcement capabilities, but also ensures that working with the private sector, the public and international partners are integrated as part of our response,” he said.
A key element of the strategy is the formation of the new multi-agency National Economic Crime Centre, which brings together the expertise of the National Crime Agency, HM Revenue and Customs, City of London Police, Serious Fraud Office, Financial Conduct Authority Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office under one single roof.
The strategy will also pilot new approaches to preventing people from engaging in serious and organised crime by engaging with communities and building resilience to its influence. Offenders who are felt to be at risk of engaging in criminality will be provided with additional support.
There will also be greater engagement with the private sector to ensure the very latest information and communications technology can be applied to law enforcement. Continuously evolving technology has meant that exploitation of children online is becoming an increasing problem. The use of live-streaming services, sometimes based overseas, also presents challenges as evidence of the use of such material may not be present on the computer of an accused person.
The internet has also made it easier for individuals to communicate across international borders. As a result, the strategy will also create a new network of overseas policy specialists to expand the UK’s ability to fight crime that has links to overseas.
The aim of the strategy is to align all the many collective efforts into a single, cohesive system that establishes a new national tasking framework for the police.
The Minister was joined at the launch event by Lynne Owens, Director-General of the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Bob Wigley, Chair of UK Finance.
Ms Owens, said: “The threat from serious and organised crime is changing rapidly, increasing in both volume and complexity. It now affects more UK citizens, more often, than any other national security threat.
“Tackling this ever-changing threat is a daunting task. This is why, as part of this strategy, we are introducing a new, revised operating model for law enforcement, which will allow us to drive more effective collaboration and prioritise tackling the issues that cause the most harm to the public. Our ambition is to deliver a layered capability, from the local level through to the national, which will identify and exploit the best opportunities to tackle serious and organised crime and stop the harm it inflicts on the UK public.
Chair of UK Finance, Bob Wigley, said: “Stemming the flow of illicit finance that underpins serious and organised crime is an absolutely priority for the UK’s banking and finance sector. Banks already spend over £5 billion a year fighting economic crime, constantly developing new approaches and finding more effective methods, but there is more we can all do.
“The new strategy launched today is exactly what is needed – providing the right legal and regulatory system, while ensuring effective collaboration by all the regulated sectors of the economy, because as a country we are only as strong as our weakest link,” he said.
The Serious and Organised Crime Strategy is intended to complement the Serious Violence Strategy launched in April which sets out the government’s response to serious violence and increases in knife crime, gun crime and homicide.