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Organised crime study

With the emergence of crimes such as fraud, child sexual exploitation and modern slavery, the problem of organised crime is growing in scale and complexity, and there is a dawning awareness that criminal justice is at best only one part of the solution to crimes that often have substantive social and economic problems at their root. So says the think-tank the Police Foundation in a new report with Perpetuity Research.

Researchers studied neighbourhoods in Coventry and Wolverhampton, finding that from 5pc to 17pc of recorded crime, such as drugs (including people being coerced into carrying drugs), violence and fraud, could be attributed to organised crime. Such criminals might exploit foreign nationals, making them work (or steal from shops) to pay for rent in substandard accommodation. The varied range and scale of harm that organised crime does to communities is generally not recorded in crime statistics, the researchers suggest; as it is ‘less overt, more insidious and harder to tackle’, such as illicit goods and protection rackets. The researchers also found confusion among police and others as to what organised crime is, and what to do about it (if anything).

Mike Skidmore, Senior Research Officer at the foundation, says: “The predominant approach for using an OCG-count to account for our serious and organised crime problem is creating large blind-spots and it is now time to nudge the spotlight in the direction of the crimes and harm – from the chronic victims of mass-marketing fraud, the financially vulnerable exploited by intimidating loan sharks, to the high turnover of women working in the local brothels, to name but a few.”

The foundation points also to its recent research that much fraud was likely attributable to OCGs (organised crime groups). However as there were no formally recognised OCGs involved in fraud in the two police force areas studied, it was not being acknowledged or prioritised for a response.


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