Substantial progress has been made tackling serious organised crime in Scotland as public, private and voluntary sector partners’ work together to deal with emerging threats from cyber crime, human trafficking and fraud.
Scotland’s Serious Organised Crime Strategy annual review reveals police officers made nearly 3,000 arrests over the last year of people known to be involved in serious organised crime. Almost £9 million was taken from individuals and companies involved in criminal activity, which brings the total seized through proceeds of crime legislation to more than £100 million since the law came in to force.
Two-thirds of serious organised crime groups are linked to seemingly legitimate businesses. Nearly £7 million of counterfeit goods, including fake cigarettes, clothing, cosmetics and medicines, were seized in Scotland.
Launching the annual review, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson MSP said:
“Since we refreshed our strategy last year there has been much work, across a huge range of partners, to reduce the harm caused by serious organised crime to Scottish communities. This threat continues to evolve and we are adapting our approach to try to meet these emerging threats head on. We are not complacent and will continue to strengthen our approach, working together to make our communities safer and to help them flourish.
“Tackling organised crime is about much more than police raids and court trials. We must work collectively in our communities to tackle the harm caused; stop the cycle of deprivation and, crucially, give those involved in these activities the chance to turn their lives around. With the right education we can prevent people, including our young people, from being recruited into a life of crime.
“We are making huge strides to detecting, disrupting and deterring serious organised crime and much of the ill-gotten gains seized from criminals, goes directly the CashBack for Communities programme we established in 2008.”
Kenneth Gibson added:
"Individuals involved in serious organised crime are having their income and personal assets targeted, including their homes, cars and businesses. Such crime impacts on all our communities, does not respect boundaries or borders and constantly evolves to establish new ways of generating profits from illegal activity and all that comes with it including violence and intimidation. Police Scotland is absolutely resolute in using all means at their disposal to undermine such criminals regardless of what commodity they are plying; whether it's Class A drugs or new psychoactive substances; counterfeit goods or re-commissioned firearms; human trafficking or large-scale money laundering and fraud.
"Criminals are increasingly using cyber-technology to carry out their trade and the taskforce and Police Scotland is doing all it can to ensure there is no hiding place. Serious organised crime groups are finding Scotland an increasingly hostile environment to operate in.”
For the full annual report here. The Taskforce comprises 17 Scottish and other agencies working together to tackle the impact of serious organised crime, focusing on the four strands of Divert, Deter, Detect, Disrupt.