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Serious and Organised Crime in the UK. Anyone read the NAO report?

I'm doing a little bit of work for a client on Serious and Organised Crime (SOC) in the UK. SOC is regarded as the fastest growing area of crime in the UK (overall, crime has been falling) and is regarded as the most damaging to society. We've all had the TV Licence renewal emails, or the Nigerian Scams - or the calls about compulsory Covid-19 testing. But what about the fake pharmaceuticals, the fake car parts, the callow and cowered eastern Europeans at the car wash, who are figuratively and literally laundering money, the thousands of illegal immigrants using criminal gangs to enter the UK unlawfully?

If people are interested, it's well worth reading last year's National Audit Office Report on the Home Office and NCA performance. The report is sobering reading (and doesn't pull any punches about the sources of the threats). However, the findings about Government and agency performances are characterised by failing targets, fragmented budgets, inability to measure success.

Serious and organised crime is evolving at a rapid rate, as criminal networks identify new vulnerabilities and adapt their activity in response to law enforcement action and the opportunities offered by new technology. Those tackling serious and organised crime recognise the seriousness of this challenge and have plans in place to build the teams and expertise to deal with it. We have also seen examples of improved collaboration across government and beyond to disrupt criminal groups, safeguard vulnerable people and seize illegal goods.

However, there remain some significant and avoidable shortcomings that may prevent government and its partners from meeting its aim to “rid our society of the harms of serious and organised crime”. The government is therefore not yet able to show that it is delivering value for money in this area. The Department and the NCA do not know whether their efforts are working and are not yet able to target resources against the highest-priority threats. Despite ongoing efforts to improve them, governance and funding arrangements remain complex, inefficient and uncertain. Unless the government addresses these issues there will continue to be a mismatch between its ambitious plans to respond to serious and organised crime and its ability to deliver on them.


I wonder what the Arrse Consultancy Service response is to these challenges? (and please no suggestions of mounting GPMGs on the White Cliffs above Dover)
 
Set up a hybrid organisation of Police, Border force and the DSS.
Go through the country with a fine toothed comb and expel ANYONE here illegally or foreign nationals involved in crime.
If they re enter the UK then they will be incarcerated and be forced to do hard labour for a minimum of 25 years.

Then shoot them.
 
Didn’t the Encrochat bust give the NCA and others a massive boost in this regard? I heard there will be years of prosecutions off the back of it.

While organised crime is a plague on society it’s all but invisible to the public unless you have dealers outside your house. Indeed Mr and Mrs Miggins probably quite like the convenience of Abdul or Vlad washing their car, or the nice Vietnamese women at the strangely quiet nail bar.
 
Set up a hybrid organisation of Police, Border force and the DSS.
Go through the country with a fine toothed comb and expel ANYONE here illegally or foreign nationals involved in crime.
If they re enter the UK then they will be incarcerated and be forced to do hard labour for a minimum of 25 years.

Then shoot them.
You lily livered liberal
 
Police, Border force and the DSS.
That immediately involves upwards of 60 organisations (comprising of NCA, Security Service, 43 Police Forces, 9 Regional Organised Crime Units, Border Force, DHSC, DWP etc...). Each with their own funding lines and priorities.

Here's the NCA's SOC Strategic Assessment for 2020...

Didn’t the Encrochat bust give the NCA and others a massive boost in this regard? I heard there will be years of prosecutions off the back of it.

While organised crime is a plague on society it’s all but invisible to the public unless you have dealers outside your house. Indeed Mr and Mrs Miggins probably quite like the convenience of Abdul or Vlad washing their car, or the nice Vietnamese women at the strangely quiet nail bar.
It becomes visible when bank accounts are hoovered dry, or your Gran loses her savings in a pension scam...
 
Serious and organised crime is evolving at a rapid rate, as criminal networks identify new vulnerabilities and adapt their activity in response to law enforcement action and the opportunities offered by new technology. Those tackling serious and organised crime recognise the seriousness of this challenge and have plans in place to build the teams and expertise to deal with it. We have also seen examples of improved collaboration across government and beyond to disrupt criminal groups, safeguard vulnerable people and seize illegal goods.

However, there remain some significant and avoidable shortcomings that may prevent government and its partners from meeting its aim to “rid our society of the harms of serious and organised crime”. The government is therefore not yet able to show that it is delivering value for money in this area. The Department and the NCA do not know whether their efforts are working and are not yet able to target resources against the highest-priority threats. Despite ongoing efforts to improve them, governance and funding arrangements remain complex, inefficient and uncertain. Unless the government addresses these issues there will continue to be a mismatch between its ambitious plans to respond to serious and organised crime and its ability to deliver on them.

When I was taking my NEBOSH, they covered writing policy. I was told never set your policy as an absolute (eg: total elimination) as that is impossible, and you will thus always fail.

But I bet it will comes down to, as usual, not enough bodies and not enough money. Mainly because the former costs the latter.
 
Here's some interesting extracts:
January 2019: Three men who ran a dark web business selling the lethal drugs fentanyl and carfentanyl to customers across the UK and worldwide were jailed for a total of 43-and-a-half years. The criminals mixed fentanyl, which is up to 100 times stronger than morphine, and carfentanyl, which is 10,000 times stronger, with bulking agents at an industrial unit in Leeds. They then sold them via the dark web. There have been over 125 deaths in the UK relating to fentanyl or carfentanyl since December 2016
 
Didn’t the Encrochat bust give the NCA and others a massive boost in this regard? I heard there will be years of prosecutions off the back of it.

While organised crime is a plague on society it’s all but invisible to the public unless you have dealers outside your house. Indeed Mr and Mrs Miggins probably quite like the convenience of Abdul or Vlad washing their car, or the nice Vietnamese women at the strangely quiet nail bar.
And your increasing car insurance...through organised scams, car thefts and whiplash claims.
 
That immediately involves upwards of 60 organisations (comprising of NCA, Security Service, 43 Police Forces, 9 Regional Organised Crime Units, Border Force, DHSC, DWP etc...). Each with their own funding lines and priorities.

Here's the NCA's SOC Strategic Assessment for 2020...


It becomes visible when bank accounts are hoovered dry, or your Gran loses her savings in a pension scam...
What I mean is set up a stand alone organisation but with the access to the information and the powers that those organisations hold.
Essentially a modern day version of the Gestapo, no warrants needed, just the ability to put the OC people in fear of the door going in at any moment.
The ability to seize and sell ANY assets held by the criminal individual.
 
I've just read the NAO report, noting with concern the part about 'value for money' which is an understandable aim of the NAO but not necessarily something which the police and other agencies can achieve as the basic footwork involved in investigating crime is costly, with financial returns being hard to measure. Crime prevention is costly up front and particularly hard to explain to accountants if successful.

There are also some government practices which have created opportunities for fraudsters/organised crime - for example, asking importers to self-declare the VAT payable on imported goods, rather than paying civil servants to visit bonded warehouses to check. The decision of HMG to rarely prosecute shoplifting where the value of goods stolen is less than £200 is also a case in point. Now shoplifting is done to order, or to feed the lower levels of organised crime (theft to support drug habits, for example). HMG is looking again at that decision.

In practical terms, HMG could do more to publicise some of the scams/tactics of organised crime. In the UK, reports of fraud are managed by Action Fraud. The people I work for have been reporting a specific fraud to AF for coming up to a year and a half. The fraud is still carrying on, and is still as far as i can see profitable. We've tried with some success to issue warnings, but few media bodies were interested. We've had no news at all from AF and that is a bit dispiriting. Other scams have recently emerged. To someone in the know, they are easily spotted and more could be done to issue precise and high profile warnings, akin to the informal warnings about types of fraud one sees on social media, but official.

The police being funded, and ordered, to focus on the sort of low level crime which feeds into the more glamarous or high profile stuff, would also help.

Lastly, there needs to be less red tape at the police/law enforcement end of things - for example, the moment that AF learns of the use by fraudsters of a 'temporary' bank account, to receive funds, it should be shut down. That day even. Law enforcement needs to be as agile as OC.
 
Didn’t the Encrochat bust give the NCA and others a massive boost in this regard? I heard there will be years of prosecutions off the back of it.

While organised crime is a plague on society it’s all but invisible to the public unless you have dealers outside your house. Indeed Mr and Mrs Miggins probably quite like the convenience of Abdul or Vlad washing their car, or the nice Vietnamese women at the strangely quiet nail bar.

Encrochat was a Gendarmerie and Dutch operation, later expanded out, not an NCA operation.
 
"Between April and September 2018, the NCA, ROCUs and forces disrupted more crimes that were considered non-priority threats (such as drugs crimes) than crimes identified as priorities"

Here lies a difficulty: ask any person in authority, who is in contact with their public, where the current priority threat lies and it's drugs, which are considered a non-priority at the highest level. Drugs are responsible for the multitiude of petty crimes to fund the habits of the poorest addicts; for the gang warfare, knife fights, gunplay and murders amongst the low-level dealers and county lines; for the intimidation of the public and their businesses, especially licensed premises; for the appalling quality of life in our sink estates; and for the aspirations of our youngsters wanting only to become dealers when they leave school. None of them have mentioned becoming brothel-keepers or running a car wash. I note also the coincidence of drug-taking and drug-trafficking amongst recent lone wolf actors committing terrorist acts. Finally, anyone who has the connections and logistics to get drugs into the UK can do the same with people and weapons, either for work slavery, for sexual slavery or for terrorism.
 
What I mean is set up a stand alone organisation but with the access to the information and the powers that those organisations hold.
Essentially a modern day version of the Gestapo, no warrants needed, just the ability to put the OC people in fear of the door going in at any moment.
The ability to seize and sell ANY assets held by the criminal individual.
The NCA is meant to be that body (but subject to the rule of law eg warrants). But they are still limited to acting through police forces who have different priorities eg fly tipping versus interrupting drug supply lines passing through their county
 
"Between April and September 2018, the NCA, ROCUs and forces disrupted more crimes that were considered non-priority threats (such as drugs crimes) than crimes identified as priorities"

Here lies a difficulty: ask any person in authority, who is in contact with their public, where the current priority threat lies and it's drugs, which are considered a non-priority at the highest level. Drugs are responsible for the multitiude of petty crimes to fund the habits of the poorest addicts; for the gang warfare, knife fights, gunplay and murders amongst the low-level dealers and county lines; for the intimidation of the public and their businesses, especially licensed premises; for the appalling quality of life in our sink estates; and for the aspirations of our youngsters wanting only to become dealers when they leave school. None of them have mentioned becoming brothel-keepers or running a car wash. I note also the coincidence of drug-taking and drug-trafficking amongst recent lone wolf actors committing terrorist acts. Finally, anyone who has the connections and logistics to get drugs into the UK can do the same with people and weapons, either for work slavery, for sexual slavery or for terrorism.
Yet the profits of the illegal drugs market - especially the conversion of cash - needs to be done somewhere. Corner shops, brothels, car washes, nail bars etc
 
I've just read the NAO report, noting with concern the part about 'value for money' which is an understandable aim of the NAO but not necessarily something which the police and other agencies can achieve as the basic footwork involved in investigating crime is costly, with financial returns being hard to measure. Crime prevention is costly up front and particularly hard to explain to accountants if successful.

There are also some government practices which have created opportunities for fraudsters/organised crime - for example, asking importers to self-declare the VAT payable on imported goods, rather than paying civil servants to visit bonded warehouses to check. The decision of HMG to rarely prosecute shoplifting where the value of goods stolen is less than £200 is also a case in point. Now shoplifting is done to order, or to feed the lower levels of organised crime (theft to support drug habits, for example). HMG is looking again at that decision.

In practical terms, HMG could do more to publicise some of the scams/tactics of organised crime. In the UK, reports of fraud are managed by Action Fraud. The people I work for have been reporting a specific fraud to AF for coming up to a year and a half. The fraud is still carrying on, and is still as far as i can see profitable. We've tried with some success to issue warnings, but few media bodies were interested. We've had no news at all from AF and that is a bit dispiriting. Other scams have recently emerged. To someone in the know, they are easily spotted and more could be done to issue precise and high profile warnings, akin to the informal warnings about types of fraud one sees on social media, but official.

The police being funded, and ordered, to focus on the sort of low level crime which feeds into the more glamarous or high profile stuff, would also help.

Lastly, there needs to be less red tape at the police/law enforcement end of things - for example, the moment that AF learns of the use by fraudsters of a 'temporary' bank account, to receive funds, it should be shut down. That day even. Law enforcement needs to be as agile as OC.
There was a very good programme on Radio 4 a couple of months ago about policing a small town in East Anglia. The locals wanted a greater police presence to stamp out (pretty low level) anti-social behaviour whereas the Police Sgt (ex City trader, IIRC) pointed out the greater impact he could have on their lives by tracking down rogue traders fleecing old dears out of their savings, rogue 'charity' activities and the like. The Police and crime Commissioner - no doubt with an eye on his political re-election - championed greater police presence patrolling the village green dealing with issues that were more the province of the local authority versus the need to get cleverer on line.

This encapsulated the challenge: 76% of funding spent on SOC goes on the pursuing...arrested, prosecuting etc - with only 4% spent on preventing it...
 

philc

LE
I remember reading one of those prior to the enlargement of the EU and freedom of movement, it highlighted threats from Eastern European gangs, drugs, prostitution etc etc etc. And low and behold.

Must be soul destroying compiling the things and the powers that be whilst not ignoring, doing very little.
 
There was a very good programme on Radio 4 a couple of months ago about policing a small town in East Anglia. The locals wanted a greater police presence to stamp out (pretty low level) anti-social behaviour whereas the Police Sgt (ex City trader, IIRC) pointed out the greater impact he could have on their lives by tracking down rogue traders fleecing old dears out of their savings, rogue 'charity' activities and the like. The Police and crime Commissioner - no doubt with an eye on his political re-election - championed greater police presence patrolling the village green dealing with issues that were more the province of the local authority versus the need to get cleverer on line.

This encapsulated the challenge: 76% of funding spent on SOC goes on the pursuing...arrested, prosecuting etc - with only 4% spent on preventing it...
Going back many years (that is, to the 60s) policing was firmly based on prevention. To an accountant, a police officer spending all day on a beat, where there is little or no crime, is inefficient. But there's little crime precisely because he's there.
A mistake was made in the 80s of jobs like park keeper and bus conductor being ended. These jobs populated public space with an official presence and deterred anti social behaviour.
You mention the police Sgt in that documentary and I nearly made that point in my first reply: some police find routine policing boring, frankly. They want instead to be on this or that squad, investigating high profile crime. Blair's PCSO idea was, imo, a good one as it filled the gap left by the seeming lack of interest in the more routine parts of policing. We still have PCSO where I live and I think their presence is appreciated.
 
Going back many years (that is, to the 60s) policing was firmly based on prevention. To an accountant, a police officer spending all day on a beat, where there is little or no crime, is inefficient. But there's little crime precisely because he's there.
A mistake was made in the 80s of jobs like park keeper and bus conductor being ended. These jobs populated public space with an official presence and deterred anti social behaviour.
You mention the police Sgt in that documentary and I nearly made that point in my first reply: some police find routine policing boring, frankly. They want instead to be on this or that squad, investigating high profile crime. Blair's PCSO idea was, imo, a good one as it filled the gap left by the seeming lack of interest in the more routine parts of policing. We still have PCSO where I live and I think their presence is appreciated.
Sadly, crime moves on (and SOC is incredibly agile) so old policing methods are simply not up to it; indeed most police forces don't seem to have the skills (hence the regional OC units).
 
Another extract...about a cyber criminal with a sense of humour:

December 2019: Russian national Maksim Yakubets was indicted in the United States in relation to two separate international computer hacking and bank fraud schemes, following unprecedented collaboration between the NCA, the FBI and the UK National Cyber Security Centre. Yakubets ran Evil Corp, the world’s most harmful cyber crime group that created and deployed malware causing financial losses totalling hundreds of millions of pounds in the UK alone. In 2014, a dedicated team in the NCA began working with multiple partners to investigate one of the group’s core malware strains, Dridex. These officers developed intelligence and identified evidential material over several years to support the US indictments, as well as sanctions against Evil Corp. The NCA and Metropolitan Police Service have also targeted Yakubets’s network of money launderers in the UK who have funnelled profits back to Evil Corp. So far, within the UK, eight people have been sentenced to a total of more than 40 years in prison.
 
I'm doing a little bit of work for a client on Serious and Organised Crime (SOC) in the UK. SOC is regarded as the fastest growing area of crime in the UK (overall, crime has been falling) and is regarded as the most damaging to society. We've all had the TV Licence renewal emails, or the Nigerian Scams - or the calls about compulsory Covid-19 testing. But what about the fake pharmaceuticals, the fake car parts, the callow and cowered eastern Europeans at the car wash, who are figuratively and literally laundering money, the thousands of illegal immigrants using criminal gangs to enter the UK unlawfully?

If people are interested, it's well worth reading last year's National Audit Office Report on the Home Office and NCA performance. The report is sobering reading (and doesn't pull any punches about the sources of the threats). However, the findings about Government and agency performances are characterised by failing targets, fragmented budgets, inability to measure success.




I wonder what the Arrse Consultancy Service response is to these challenges? (and please no suggestions of mounting GPMGs on the White Cliffs above Dover)
Budgets, or lack of, are the bane of serious crime fighting.
I was on a very good surveillance team of the SPG back in the 80s when a move was made to cut the overtime bill by trimming the OPs down from an observer, a loggist, and one on-rest kipping on a camp bed, to just the on-rest and the observer by employing sound activated cassette recorders that could be transcribed onto surveillance logs after being dropped off with the unit collator at the end of each shift.
First up with the new piece of kit was a PC and a not unattractive WPC who duly dropped off the cassettes when relieved after twelve hours, although on listening to the tapes it was quite vocally obvious that both had been occupying the camp bed for several hours, and not for the purpose of sleep.
No more mixed-sex OPs.
 
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