Government money to tackle organised crime ‘insufficient’

26 Nov 18

Government funding for tackling serious and organised crime is “by no means enough” compared with its cost to the UK, a criminologist has told PF

Serious and organised crime affects more citizens and causes more deaths in the UK each year than all other national security threats combined, the Home Office’s ‘Serious and Organised Crime Strategy’, published last month, said. 

The Home Office committed £48m for 2019-20 to tackle organised crime as part of the strategy. 

But the National Crime Agency has estimated that organised crime – including human and drug trafficking, fraud and money laundering, child sexual exploitation and modern slavery – costs the UK at least £37bn a year. 

Mohammed Rahman, lecturer in criminology at Nottingham Trent University, told PF the funding was “by no means enough to effectively combat and reduce the economic cost of organised crime. A £48m budget is not going to eradicate a £37bn problem”. 

He believed the government has spent disproportionately on counter-terrorism, committing £707m last year, followed by the further £160m for 2019-20 announced in the Budget

Rahman, who specialises in serious and organised crime, told PF: “Cases of organised crime are far greater than cases of terrorism in Britain,” and in terms of funding should “be treated equally” to counter-terrorism measures. 

He said the funding disparity was partly down to low public awareness of organised crime compared with terrorism, which dominates the media. 

John Apter, chair of the Police Federation, said the strategy would not work unless the government gave police forces a cash injection. 

“It is, of course, important to have an overall plan to deal with serious organised crime, but however good intentioned that is, it doesn’t deal with the fundamental issue that the police service has been decimated at grass roots level and that is where investment is needed in order to help support new units and deliver what the strategy is setting out,” he said.

Michael Skidmore, senior researcher at the Police Foundation think-tank, agreed there was a “gap” in funding. 

“There is undoubtedly more that can be done,” he told PF. Cracking down on this type of crime is “very resource-intensive for police” as victims are reluctant to come forward and the police have to look harder for evidence of these crimes, he said. 

He added: “It is hugely challenging to do this at a time of cuts.”

The NCA calculated that the cost of this type of crime has risen from £24bn in 2013 to £37bn this year, but both Skidmore and Rahman claimed this figure was too low.

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