In a bold new move by the Home Secretary Teresa May, the National Crime Agency was officially launched to the public on October 7, our regular contributor Jim Gannon writes.
It was a move described by some as the UK getting its own FBI agency after the alleged failings of similar serious crime fighting agencies of the past decade. In the previous week we learned that some of the UK’s largest police forces are introducing so called pre-crime investigation tactics, whereby officers are deployed to use predictive crime detection methods which are specifically targeted to areas to prevent crime from occurring. Whilst crime mapping is not new to most of you, a ‘future’ crime map is the new take on specific types of crime like burglary and mugging. Futuristic computer programming with other available information is enabling the production of predictive crime areas on a day by day basis, which in turn drives police into specific locations where they are best placed to deter or detect crime. While we can all be sceptical about some of the new methods being adopted, some initial evaluation of these tactics are showing reductions in certain types of crime in a number of the piloted districts in several police force areas.
All police forces face the challenge of shrinking resources, against the background of 20 per cent reduction in their budgets and so the task of allocating officers to more effective ways of fighting crime and developing new techniques of effective policing, means that some of the methods being tried will inevitably fail. Predictive policing has been used in some areas since 2010 and a reduction in selected crime of up to 25pc has been recorded. This method of reducing crime originates in the USA where notable results were achieved. Crime mapping alone does not reduce crime but it does help to identify those areas at the greatest risk and while all 43 police forces in England and Wales are being encouraged to adopt the improved method, some senior officers remain sceptical over its real worth over a prolonged period.
The newly created National Crime Agency (NCA) at long last calls time on the UK’s organised crime syndicates. A recent police intelligence led assessment indicates that 25pc of those involved in organised crime are foreign nationals. With reports indicating there are over 5000 organised crime groups operating in Britain, our industry is now under a greater increasing threat than ever. This is not alarmist talk but a reality check that has to be faced by UK businesses. The UK is being viewed as a relatively soft target, aided by a penal system which seems to offer little threat to foreign criminals who are adopting predatory methods to fleece citizens. The intelligence report indicates that over 30,000 foreign gang members are now in the country, many of whom are considered to be high risk offenders not averse to violence. Whilst plans are in motion to put Immigration officers into selected police stations, so that foreign criminals can be identified and processed on arrest then deported , the reality is that our borders are now so open that these offenders could be back within days. New powers however introduced by the Government in September enable foreign criminals to be deported and then forced to conduct any appeals from abroad. The current practice where foreign criminals misuse the human rights legislation in appeals, will be reduced.
The Home Secretary has been forced to get tough as the social and economic cost of serious organised crime in this country is now reported to be costing us £24 billion per annum and rising year on year. Reports indicate that some 25pc of the organised crime groups operating in the UK commit ‘economic crime’ and leading the way is fraud. We are entering an era that encourages us to believe nothing we read ,see or hear which tempts us to part with our hard earned money. Having recently commented on bugging, blagging and hacking, it will come as no surprise to you all that organised crime gangs are using modern technology in their quest to relieve the British public and its businesses of their funds. Bogus websites, expensively produced literature, generous offers, texting, personal introductions, bogus seminars, cold calling, social invites, the list goes on. Methods simply designed to draw you in. Pension pots are the latest to be targeted, which is now categorised as ‘pension liberation fraud’ whereby the funds normally end up in some worthless fund based off shore having gone through a series of numbered accounts rendering it untraceable even if you had the means with which to investigate its location. Organised crime gangs now view nothing as sacred and so the financial markets have also not been left untouched.
NCA too late?
Has the NCA come years too late, as we have allowed organised crime to become entrenched in our society. The involvement of the foreign underworld is something we could have done without that is for sure. Is it too little too late ? Only time will tell I guess. We want the NCA to be successful ,we certainly need them to be and our industry needs to stay on top of this increasing threat.