Organised crime is a term that has leverage: once a problem has been labelled as ‘organised crime’ there is a chance that police resources to tackle it will follow. However this is much less straightforward than it might seem, say researchers. They point to the wide gap between the scale of the problem, and the local capacity to deal with it. The think-tank the Police Foundation and Perpetuity Research have completed a large-scale study of organised crime in local communities, and how local police and partners respond.
According to the 138-page report, the mind set of many police officers working in neighbourhoods is that organised crime is not something they deal with and as a result there is a lack of understanding of what organised crime looks like. It might seem trite to suggest there needs to be some clarity on what organised crime actually is, but during this research we found very real examples of how an inability to identify organised crime leads to gaps in response. The result is that many organised crime groups do not get acknowledged as such and so do not attract specialist resources, but at the same time are left in the ‘too difficult’ box.
Up to 17 per cent of the crime impacting on some neighbourhoods and between a third and half of all fraud were estimated to emanate from organised crime, and over half of children identified as being vulnerable to child sexual exploitation were found to have been at risk from groups of offenders.
The study was done in the Avon and Somerset (Bristol), and West Midlands police force areas (Coventry and Wolverhampton).
Prof Martin Gill of Perpetuity, pictured, who co-managed the research said: “The findings are striking. They suggest that organised crime is more prolific than many had estimated and the harms more serious than we thought. Yet the policing response often falls between stalls. In our preoccupation with terrorism and cyber crime, important those they are, we must not lose focus on a range of other offence types.”
A copy of the report can be downloaded from the Perpetuity website: www.perpetuityresearch.com. Or; from the Police Foundation website.