‘More money needed’ to beat high-tech organised criminals, says National Crime Agency

Officials say threat growing after serious crime ‘revolutionised’ by technology

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Sunday 12 May 2019 19:05 BST
The NCA leads the national response to crime including people smuggling
The NCA leads the national response to crime including people smuggling (NCA)

The head of the National Crime Agency (NCA) has said “significant new investment” is needed to combat the growing threat from organised crime in the UK.

The body said serious crime had been “revolutionised” by technology, as gangs exploit new ways of networking and covering their tracks.

Ahead of the release of its annual national strategic assessment on Tuesday, the NCA said changing organised crime was undermining the UK’s economy, integrity, infrastructure, and institutions.

Director general Lynne Owens said: “People should understand that serious and organised crime kills more of our citizens every year than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined.

“It is chronic and corrosive and the message needs to be heard by everyone.

“Against a backdrop of globalisation, extremism, and technological advances, serious and organised crime is changing fast, and law enforcement needs significant new investment to help combat it.”

Ms Owens said the upcoming report would “detail the growing and ever changing nature of the threat posed by serious and organised crime – to individuals, to communities and to wider society”.

The assessment will expose how organised criminals are exploiting advances in technology and adopting new methods – alongside violence – to commit crime, dominate communities and increase profits.

There are about 4,600 serious and organised crime groups in the UK, according to a previous assessment by the NCA.

The body coordinates the UK’s response to crimes including the trafficking of weapons and drugs, human smuggling, cyber crime and fraud.

In November, the government launched a new strategy to tackle activity that costs the UK economy £37bn a year.

The Home Office also announced a £48m boost in funding to tackle economic crime.

Security minister Ben Wallace said in a statement: “As the National Crime Agency set out, serious and organised crime [SOC] is a fast-evolving and highly complex threat to our national security, impacting on our people, on our communities and on our businesses across the country.

“Our SOC strategy published in November 2018 set out how we will mobilise the full force of the state to target and disrupt serious and organised crime. As criminals’ use of technology evolves so must our response. We continue to invest in the right capabilities and tools in law enforcement, across government and in partnership with the private sector.”

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