National Crime Agency
181,000 UK offenders fuelling “chronic and corrosive” threat from serious and organised crime
NCA Director General says a £2.7bn investment in law enforcement is needed to combat SOC over the next three years.
There are at least 181,000 offenders linked to serious and organised crime in the UK, the National Crime Agency has revealed, as it launched its most comprehensive study yet of the deadliest threat facing the nation.
The figure - more than twice the strength of the regular British Army – is a conservative estimate as it only takes into account known members of organised crime groups and offenders operating on the worst child abuse dark web sites.
A £2.7bn investment in law enforcement is needed to combat SOC over the next three years, NCA Director General Lynne Owens said yesterday as she released the National Strategic Assessment (NSA).
The Director General said the agency – which leads the UK’s fight against serious and organised crime – requires an additional £650m in annual funding to spearhead the fight; an amount less than the weekly cost of serious and organised crime to the nation.
She yesterday said:
“Serious and organised crime in the UK is chronic and corrosive, its scale is truly staggering.
“It kills more people every year than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined. SOC affects more UK citizens, more frequently than any other national security threat. And it costs the UK at least £37bn a year – equivalent to nearly £2000 per family.
“We need significant further investment to keep pace with the growing scale and complexity.
“Enhancing our capabilities is critical to our national security. If we don’t, the whole of UK law enforcement, and therefore the public, will feel the consequences.
“Some will say we cannot afford to provide more investment, but I say we cannot afford not to.
“The organised criminals of today are indiscriminate – they care less about what types of crime they’re involved in, as long as it makes them a profit.
“These groups are preying on the most vulnerable in society, including young children and the elderly – those most unable to protect themselves.”
The 2019 NSA is the agency’s sixth and most wide-ranging and incisive yet.
It draws on information and intelligence from more sources than ever before including UK law enforcement, government departments, the intelligence community and the private and voluntary sectors.
As well as showing the spectrum of offences being committed, the NSA shows the traditional idea of organised crime groups (OCGs) is becoming old-fashioned.
Hierarchies and infrastructure of old-style OCGs have fragmented into more dynamic groups of younger offenders who use technology and capitalise on networking to carry out multiple types of crimes while still employing extreme violence.
Professional enablers such as accountants, solicitors and those working in money service businesses are increasingly facilitating crimes with their expertise.
And use of the dark web and encryption to cloak offending have also grown significantly, with cryptocurrenices increasingly used to launder dirty money.
The NSA shows:
- There are nearly 2.9 million accounts registered on the worst child sexual abuse sites on the dark web worldwide – more than 5% of which we believe are from offenders based in the UK
- The number of referrals to the NCA from industry of online child sexual abuse and exploitation have increased by 700% since 2012.
- Referrals of potential victims of modern slavery have increased by more than 80% since 2016.
- The number of ‘County Lines’ drug supply lines has increased from 720 to around 2,000 in a little over a year.
- Financial losses from fraud soared by an incredible 32% between April and September 2018. There were 3.6 million incidents of fraud reported in England and Wales in 2018
Based on the NSA, the Director General has set out the priorities for the system-wide operational response to SOC. They target:
- those who exploit the vulnerable through child sexual abuse and exploitation, trafficking, servitude, fraud and other forms of abuse;
- those who dominate communities and chase profits in the criminal marketplace using violence or criminal reputation in the supply of drugs and firearms;
- and those who undermine the UK’s economy, integrity, infrastructure and institutions through their criminality.
To effectively lead the fight against SOC, the NCA needs additional funding.
The money would enable the agency to meet growing demand and to build capabilities in areas such as digital forensics, covert surveillance, financial investigations and other critical areas law enforcement needs to combat SOC in the 21st century.
The Director General added:
“Visible, front-line policing is vital to public safety, but the reality is that we will not defeat serious and organised crime with beat officers alone.
“Some of the capabilities we need are most effectively and efficiently delivered at the local or regional level. The NCA must deliver others on a national basis, providing the right agencies with the right capabilities at the right time to deliver maximum impact.
“The choice is stark. Failing to invest will result in the gradual erosion of our capabilities and our ability to protect the public.”
Read the full assessment pdfhere (6.17 MB)
Read NCA Director General Lynne Owens speech pdfhere (233 KB)
Latest News from
National Crime Agency
Joint operation in Northern Ireland nets huge firearms and ammunition haul18/11/2019 13:15:00
Twenty-four firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition have been seized in a joint operation between the National Crime Agency and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Jailed – the pharma boss who ran ‘world’s biggest’ anabolic steroid distribution network14/11/2019 15:15:15
The head of an international pharmaceutical firm has been jailed for heading up what is believed to be the world’s biggest ever illegal anabolic steroid distribution network.
Truck driver charged after cocaine found in frozen meat load13/11/2019 09:15:00
The National Crime Agency have charged a truck driver with attempting to import class A drugs after cocaine likely to be worth more than £20 million was seized at Harwich.
Gun smuggler with 60 firearms in car jailed for nine years12/11/2019 13:15:00
A man has been jailed for nine years after admitting smuggling 60 guns into the country in his car, as part of a National Crime Agency investigation.
Woman admits live-streaming child sexual abuse11/11/2019 14:15:00
woman has admitted four child sexual abuse charges including live-streaming footage of herself sexually abusing a young girl over almost three years.
NCA investigation launched after migrants found on yacht11/11/2019 11:15:00
National Crime Agency officers have charged a 64-year-old man with facilitating illegal entry to the UK after discovering eight illegal migrants on a yacht.
Coventry man jailed for possessing firearm08/11/2019 12:15:00
A construction worker has been sentenced to five years in jail after being caught carrying a firearm in his backpack while on his way to work.
Drug dealers and dancer jailed for cocaine smuggling06/11/2019 11:15:00
Two drug dealers have been jailed for smuggling cocaine worth £38k into the UK alongside the dancer acting as their drugs mule.