Organised crime costs country £40bn a year

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The Independent Online

There are about 30,000 criminals in organised crime gangs, costing the UK up to £40 billion every year, an official report warned yesterday.

The joint Home Office-Cabinet Office review warned that the scale and sophistication of the threat from organised crime meant it could not be tackled through the traditional criminal justice system. It also identified holes in police capacity to tackle criminal gangs in some areas of England and Wales.

The Home Office has set a deadline for the end of the year for every region to have a unit, lead force or taskforce, and the report contains a warning that ministers will enforce changes if they are not made voluntarily. New measures to tackle the problem will include the "Al Capone" approach of targeting criminals for tax evasion.

Changes to the law will also mean gang bosses with extravagant lifestyles will have to explain how they came by their wealth, instead of prosecutors having to link their wealth to criminal acts.

The review said the recession would create "new opportunities" for criminal gangs, and that the downturn was likely to lead to more violent crime, as gangs battle for market share.

Among measures aimed at tackling the problems are a Home Office monitoring centre looking at the efforts of law enforcement agencies.

The report also identifies problems in the prisons system, with jailed crime bosses using "sophisticated" techniques to carry on running their empires. Ministers have launched a crackdown on mobile phone use in jails.

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