The Government’s new strategy for tackling serious organised crime, entitled Extending Our Reach: A Comprehensive Approach to Tackling Serious Organised Crime, has been published.
The strategy endorses many of SOCA’s current ways of working, including by seeking to cement a collaborative approach and to embrace wide-ranging tactics.
The strategy’s four main aims are to:
- ensure that all organised criminals are within our reach, using non-traditional techniques to create an improved intelligence picture and supporting the principle of lifetime management;
- use whatever tools have maximum impact, prosecuting when possible but also going further into using non-criminal proceedings, including to recover finances and assets;
- enable all of Government to play its part, including by strengthening the criminal justice system approach and using the powers of agencies outside law enforcement to combat organised crime together;
- maximise collective efforts overseas, and to work closely with the private sector and with the public.
Speaking at the launch of the strategy, SOCA Executive Director David Bolt said:
“Organised crime is constantly evolving, as is law enforcement, and five years after the publication of ‘One Step Ahead’ this is a timely and appropriate response. Our intelligence on organised crime has improved significantly, and we have new powers, the effects of which are starting to be felt. At the same time there are new opportunities for criminals, and law enforcement has to keep working to stay ahead”.
The Review is a strong endorsement for the approaches SOCA has been pioneering, and looks to extend those approaches more widely. For example, every SOCA investigation involves a financial investigation; we are making use of Serious Crime Prevention Orders and Financial Reporting Orders; we work with non-law enforcement partners and the private sector; we work with prosecutors to ensure that the best line is taken in every case; and we are exploring the potential for greater data sharing and matching. We know that other countries look to the UK as leading the field in many of these areas.
Through SOCA’s operational efforts in its first three years we have been able to identify over 5,000 individuals involved in organised crime at a level that makes them of interest to us. The people we are concerned about are mostly lifetime criminals. Some are overseas, some are in prison, but once they are in our sights we do not let go. We recognise that it is not a matter of dealing them a single blow and that we have to keep up our attack. As a result, it is likely that the number of people on our radar will continue to grow.
The main principles of the new strategy are sensible: all organised criminals within reach; all approaches considered; all of government playing its part; all partners at home and overseas engaged. We particularly welcome the specific remit the Review gives to other government departments and agencies: this is not just for the Home Office and law enforcement to deliver. Collaboration is the key. This is something SOCA has always promoted – the legislation that set us up designed us to operate on that basis.
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