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Organised Crime - Strategy

Contents

Introduction

Organised Crime is defined as planned and co-ordinated criminal behaviour and conduct by people working together on a continuing basis. Their motivation is often, but not always, financial gain. Organised crime in this and other countries recognises neither national borders nor national interests.

In December 2013 it was estimated that there were 36,000 organised criminals in 5,300 groups affecting the UK.

Organised Crime in the UK:

  • Represents a serious threat to our national security;
  • Costs in excess of £24 billion each year;
  • Threatens our borders;
  • Has a corrosive impact on our communities.

Organised Crime is therefore both a serious threat to the national security and the economic well- being of the UK.

The CPS Organised Crime strategy aims to:

  • Successfully prosecute and otherwise disrupt the criminal activities of those involved in Organised crime;
  • Pursue the assets of all who profit from Organised crime, when it is proper to do so;
  • Work with our international colleagues to bring Organised Criminals to justice wherever they may be;
  • Prevent future offending by the use of Serious Organised Crime Prevention Orders and other ancillary powers.

The strategy will be implemented and delivered in the following way:

  • By the Organised Crime Division of the CPS (OCD CPS), based in London, Birmingham and the North prosecuting Organised Crime cases directly investigated by the National Crime Agency;
  • By the Complex Casework Units (CCU's) of the 13 CPS Areas prosecuting Organised Crime cases investigated primarily by Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCU's) and local Police Forces;
  • By the 13 CPS Areas prosecuting Organised Crime cases investigated by local Police Forces; and
  • By the International Division of the CPS working with OCD and NCA worldwide to better investigate and prosecute cases at source or in transit.

The CPS strategy supports the Government's Serious and Organised Crime Strategy, published by the Home Office in October 2013, which aims "to substantially reduce the level of organised crime in this country and the level of serious crime that requires a national response" [The government's Serious and Organised Crime Strategy October 2013, paragraph 3.1.].

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The CPS strategy

The aim of this strategy is to set out how the CPS will implement the key areas of the Government's Serious and Organised Crime Strategy to bring to justice those who are engaged in Organised Crime both here and abroad, to recover their assets and to prevent them from causing serious harm in the future. This strategy should be read in conjunction with the CPS Asset Recovery Strategy. It is a key aim of this strategy that Organised criminals should not benefit financially from their criminality.

In all cases prosecutors considering whether to institute proceedings for criminal offences will apply the principles set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

One of the CPS's priorities is the service we provide to victims. Organised crime often has no identifiable victim. However, these are not victimless crimes. Sometimes the victim is the public purse, or the public itself: for instance, in the loss of money for the provision of public services such as the NHS, schools and the police.

Where there is an identifiable victim, such as a trafficked person or a child subject to online sexual exploitation we will ensure that our prosecutors adhere to the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.

We will work with Victims Liaison Units and apply to the Courts in appropriate cases to ensure that victims or intimidated witnesses are safeguarded in giving their evidence.

Where appropriate we will seek compensation for identified victims.

We recognise that the success of this strategy will, in part, depend upon our close working relationships with law enforcement, the criminal justice system (CJS) and other domestic and international partners. We will engage with them to ensure that our strategy is aligned with theirs, in pursuit of our common objectives.

Our strategy recognises the need to assist other jurisdictions in their fight against Organised crime, rather than simply requesting assistance from them.

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CPS priorities

There are eleven areas of work central to the implementation of our strategy:

  • Criminal Justice System Engagement
  • International Engagement
  • Drug Trafficking
  • Firearms Trafficking
  • Organised Immigration Crime and Human Trafficking (including Modern Slavery)
  • Child Sexual Exploitation
  • Cyber Crime
  • Money Laundering
  • Organised Acquisitive Crime
  • Lifetime Management of Offenders
  • Confiscation and Asset Recovery

In delivering these priority areas we will take account of the four components which make up HM Government's Serious and Organised Crime Strategy, namely Pursue, Prevent, Protect and Prepare. In particular the CPS will be involved in;

Pursue, by prosecuting those involved in serious and organised criminality; and

Prevent, by seeking Serious Crime Prevention Orders and other ancillary orders to disrupt and inhibit those likely to be involved in Organised Crime in the future.

The CPS will also work with partners to protect the UK from the activities of Organised Criminals and also prepare the UK to resist the activities of such individuals and groups.

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Criminal Justice System Engagement

The CPS recognises the need for Criminal Justice System (CJS) agencies to work together, and towards common goals, if we are to deliver on this strategy.

We will engage with our CJS and Law Enforcement partners to promote the CPS Organised Crime Strategy, which is aligned with the work of other agencies.

The CPS enjoys close working relationships with law enforcement agencies such as the National Crime Agency (NCA), HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the police. We will build on these key strategic relationships, and explore new approaches to the delivery of our Organised Crime Strategy. In particular, we will;

  • Work in partnership with our CJS partners to continue to improve our response to Organised Crime and to improve and develop the domestic operating environment to facilitate that improvement;
  • Work in partnership with our CJS partners to improve operational performance in combatting Organised Crime and apprehending, or otherwise disrupting, those involved in it.

We will work closely with the Home Office and other government departments to ensure that we have the right tools and powers to properly prosecute those involved in Organised Crime.

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International Engagement

The CPS is well placed to develop the investigation and prosecution of Organised Crime that takes place across national borders based on the success of our Liaison Prosecutors, Criminal Justice Advisors and Asset Recovery Advisors, who are stationed in a number of countries in the EU and worldwide. We will aim to utilise our international network to take a more targeted and dynamic approach to the particular challenges of Organised Crime across international borders. When we send out a request for Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) to support enquiries relating to Organised Crime, we will not simply wait for a response but will be pro-active in assisting recipient countries in obtaining this evidence. We will work with our law enforcement partners worldwide to provide real time and targeted expert assistance. When practical or systemic blockages to such joint work occur, we will work with others to remove or reduce them.

We will increase our capacity to combat Organised Crime both in the UK and overseas. We will work with UK and international law enforcement partners, and with criminal justice partners, to:

  • improve our operational response to Organised Crime at home and abroad and;
  • improve the international operating environment in priority countries so that Organised Crime can be countered more effectively.

To do this, we plan to:

  • build on our already excellent relations with priority partner countries to exploit, to the full extent permissible, the tactical and legal tools available (at home and abroad);
  • develop the operational environment at home and in priority partner countries so that Organised Crime can be investigated and prosecuted more effectively than current conditions permit.

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Drug Trafficking

Over half of the Organised Crime Groups operating against the UK are involved in drug-related crime. Although illegal drug use is falling, the UK's illegal drug market, which is controlled by Organised Crime, is worth around £3.7 billion each year and led to over 2000 drug-related deaths in 2012.

It is estimated that between 18-23 tonnes of heroin and 25-30 tonnes of cocaine are imported annually into the UK.

The UK drugs market is diversifying with an increase in the number of new psychoactive substances (NPS) primarily imported from China and India.

Like other crime types, illegal drugs supply is moving online to websites intended to evade law enforcement action and subsequent criminal prosecution.

The CPS will adapt flexibly to meet the challenges brought by the new methods of drug importation, supply and production. In particular we will ensure that our prosecutors receive adequate training to equip them with the technical skills required to manage and successfully prosecute these cases.

The CPS will work closely with law enforcement colleagues, at home and abroad, to combat and successfully prosecute drug traffickers and suppliers. We will provide early strategic advice to investigators in order that investigation opportunities are fully utilised. We will provide prosecutorial support to our law enforcement partners from the earliest stage of a criminal investigation so that strong and robust criminal cases can be built against those who deal in drugs. In parallel, and in accordance with the CPS Proceeds of Crime Strategy, we will ensure that specialist Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) legal advice is available to investigators so that Organised Criminals are deprived of the financial benefit of their offending. This specialist advice will focus on the restraint of criminal assets and their ultimate confiscation following conviction.

The CPS will also identify any new powers that are required by prosecutors to properly prosecute offending by Organised Criminals.

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Firearms Trafficking

Crimes involving firearms remain relatively rare in the UK although some Organised Crime Groups are known to have ready access to them when required.

Firearms are obtained through criminal networks, social connections and from criminal armourers who supply across groups.

Single firearms will be hidden or held by associates less likely to attract law enforcement attention.

Most of the firearms used by UK based criminals are handguns, many of which are converted or reactivated.

Firearms are often used to enforce the will of an Organised Crime Group by creating a culture of fear and intimidation.

The CPS will work closely with law enforcement colleagues to combat and successfully prosecute those who import and deal in firearms. We will provide prosecutorial support to investigators from the earliest stage of a criminal investigation so that strong and robust criminal cases can be built and ultimately presented at court in order that those who trade in firearms are brought to justice. We will ensure that those who engage in this type of offending do not benefit financially from their offending.

We will work closely with CJS partners to ensure that the U.K. remains a hostile environment for those who deal in and use firearms.

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Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery - Organised Immigration Crime

Organised Immigration Crime covers both the smuggling of willing people to illegally facilitate their entry into the UK and human trafficking which generally relates to the exploitation of irregular migrants. Human trafficking is often, not but always, connected to modern slavery, labour exploitation or servitude.

The majority of illegal migrants will rely on the services of Organised Crime Groups at some point in their journey or during their time in the UK.

We will work with our law enforcement partners to prosecute more offenders in this area. We will provide prosecutorial support to law enforcement colleagues from the earliest stage of a criminal investigation. We will recognise the impact of the crime and any subsequent criminal justice process on the victim and take appropriate steps to ensure that they are safeguarded throughout the process.

We will use the full range of offences available under the Immigration Act 1971 and the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to prosecute people smuggling and those trafficking people into, within and out of the UK for all forms of exploitation.

Our prosecutors will also ensure that the ancillary powers contained within the Modern Slavery Act 2015 are properly utilised against this form of offending. We will work in priority countries to improve the investigation and prosecution of immigration crime and human trafficking.

Our prosecutors will apply the standards set out in the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime which places the needs of victims at the heart of the criminal justice system. Additionally, where there may be safety concerns for the victim, we will take appropriate steps (see Director's Guidance on Witness Anonymity).

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Child Sexual Exploitation

The sexual exploitation of children is a matter of great public concern. This has always been the case but is particularly so presently due to a number of high profile cases that have caused heightened public concern. It is vital that these cases are investigated as professionally and efficiently as possible and any subsequent prosecutions are based on robust and proper evidence.

We will work with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) command within the NCA to identify the main threats to children and coordinate activity against these threats to bring offenders to account.

We will prosecute those who sexually exploit and abuse children. These prosecutions will be handled by prosecutors who have been specially trained to handle these difficult and important prosecutions. Prosecutors will again provide advice from the earliest stage of the criminal investigation.

We will look to use actively the powers contained within section 72 Sexual Offences Act 2003 to combat offending by U.K. nationals abroad. As set out in the section dealing with international engagement, we will work with international colleagues to ensure that all opportunities to safeguard vulnerable children and young persons are utilized.

With our NCA and other law enforcement partners we will also focus on Organised Crime Groups profiteering from the publication or distribution of child abuse images. We will ensure that those who engage in this type of offending do not benefit financially from their offending. We will assist our colleagues in priority countries to address the issue at its source where possible.

Our prosecutors will apply the standards set out in the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime and where there may be safety concerns for the victim, we will take appropriate steps (see Director's Guidance on Witness Anonymity).

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Cyber-crime

Cyber-crime is a fast moving and challenging threat. Current figures suggest that 84% of all identity fraud is committed via the internet. Over the last two decades the internet and digital communications have steadily increased.

The growth of the internet and increasing use of social and technological communications has seen significant changes in the way that society now operates. This use of technology has brought many benefits in our everyday lives but has also introduced a number of threats and risks, altering the landscape in which crimes can be facilitated.

Crimes committed through the use of the internet and communications technology remove the traditional constraints of time and place so that, for example, an offender based in one continent could target a victim (or multiple victims) in a variety of locations, or countries, with the crime being executed through the use of a computer or mobile device.

The true cost of cyber-crime to the U.K. is unknown – it has been estimated to be at least £27 billion. It is accepted that the threat is rising and as the threat rises, the cost to the U.K. will also rise.

Cyber-crime and cyber-enabled crime is therefore a growing threat to the security and economic well-being of the U.K.

We will work with the National Cyber Crime Unit, embedded in the NCA, to bring to justice those who commit cyber-crime offences. This may include cyber-enabled fraud offences where a computer is used to commit the offence and true cyber-crime such as malware, ransom ware and DDOS (dedicated denial of service) attacks.

We will work with our law enforcement and domestic colleagues to ensure that criminal investigations into cyber-crime and cyber-enabled offending are supported by prosecutors from the earliest stage of the investigation. We will ensure that specialist prosecutors are available to advise on and prosecute the most complex cyber investigations. We will ensure that those who engage in this type of offending do not benefit financially from their offending.

We will equip our lawyers with the tools and skills they need to properly deal with this area by providing suitable and ongoing training.

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Money Laundering

A significant proportion of serious and organised crime is aimed, directly or indirectly, at making money. Criminal proceeds are re-invested into further illicit enterprises to fund a lavish lifestyle or accumulate wealth and assets. It is important to disrupt this flow of money to ensure that serious organised criminals do not benefit financially from their offending.

The prosecution of money laundering offences, and the subsequent confiscation of assets, removes the profits of organised crime and professional fraudsters, thereby disrupting their criminal activities. The CPS will prosecute money laundering offences where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to do so.

POCA creates a number of offences relating to the handling of monies representing the proceeds of crime either for the benefit of the defendant or another person. We will work with CPS National Proceeds of Crime Service to ensure that we pursue the assets of all who profit from Organised Crime. We will contribute to the overall CPS Asset Recovery Strategy.

We will ensure that all opportunities are taken by all prosecutors to deprive criminals of the fruits of their criminal offending.

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Organised Acquisitive Crime

Organised Criminals are involved in criminality primarily for profit. Such criminality can take many forms and criminal groups can move easily between different types of offending. The common thread to all the offending is, however, the pursuit of profit and Organised Criminal Groups will often concentrate their offending into areas which offer the greatest profit and provide the lowest amount of risk of being detected.

Examples of this type of offending include, but are not limited to, market abuse, insider dealing, bribery and corruption, the production and use of counterfeit currency and fraud (against the private, public and third sector).

Organised criminality in this area can be characterised by significant levels of violence - particularly in the field of cash in transit robberies and gas attacks of ATMs.

We will work with our law enforcement and domestic colleagues to ensure that criminal investigations into Organised acquisitive crime offending are supported by prosecutors from the earliest stage of the investigation.

We will ensure that those who engage in this type of offending do not benefit financially from their offending.

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Lifetime Management of Offenders

We will ensure that all opportunities are taken by our prosecutors to disrupt the criminal activities of Organised Criminals. Prosecution will be the normal response to offending by Organised Criminals but CPS prosecutors will make full use of ancillary orders available to them to limit the ability of Organised Criminals to continue to offend in the future.

The CPS will proactively seek appropriate ancillary orders which will inhibit and disrupt the activities of those engaged in Organised Crime. These may include;

  • Serious Crime Prevention Orders
  • Travel Restriction Orders
  • Financial Reporting Orders
  • Sexual Offences Prevention Orders
  • Disqualification of Directors Orders

These orders often complement a criminal prosecution and fall to be considered on conviction. In the case of Serious Crime Prevention Orders, however, the CPS will consider the use of these orders as an alternative to prosecution in appropriate cases e.g. where a criminal trial is not possible or there has not been a criminal trial in the U.K. but the suspect has been convicted of serious offending in another jurisdiction.

The CPS will play its part in seeking to relentlessly disrupt the activities of serious organised criminals and make the UK a hostile place for them to seek to carry out their offending.

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Confiscation of the Proceeds of Crime

Criminal profits are the life-blood of Organised Crime as the profits are often reinvested into further criminal activities. By taking away the profits that fund crime, we can help to disrupt the cycle that sustains these organisations.

Confiscation orders represent perhaps the best opportunity to deprive criminals of assets as, subject to certain qualifying criteria being satisfied, an order can extend to assets other than those relating to the offence for which the person has been convicted.

Our prosecutors will proactively manage every stage of the confiscation process in that they;

  • Advise on the obtaining of a restraint order and conduct restraint
  • applications;
  • Advise on the confiscation investigation;
  • Conduct confiscation proceedings in court;
  • Obtain receivership orders; and
  • Recover assets to satisfy a confiscation order by way of enforcement action in the UK and overseas.

We will contribute to the successful implementation of the CPS Asset Recovery Strategy and ensure that Organised Criminals do not benefit financially from their offending.

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Measuring Success

We shall maintain national information management systems that will provide us with prompt and accurate management data. This data will then be used to identify and address any operational or performance issues quickly. We will carry out local and national quality assurance checks of systems, processes, casework and management data. A quarterly performance review process will provide continuous assessment of the work of those teams within the CPS who are prosecuting Organised Crime. The assessment will encompass a breakdown of cases by Organised Crime type where they are held within the Organised Crime Division and for other parts of the CPS where it is possible to do so.

Work more productively with law enforcement agencies and HMCTS

Our prosecutors will build closer relationships with the National Crime Agency, Regional Organised Crime Units and Police Force Areas across the country.

Measure and report on our performance

The CPS delivers a public service in accordance with a set of publically facing Casework Quality Standards (CQS). These lay down the quality of service that the public is entitled to expect from those who prosecute on its behalf. The CQS for the Central Casework Divisions, who prosecute the majority of Organised Crime cases, are currently being reviewed.

The CQS are supported by published service delivery measures that set the performance expected in respect of each standard. Currently, the Organised Crime Division collates information on conviction rates, sentences, the value of confiscation orders and the obtaining of ancillary orders.

Ensure our prosecutors have the skills for the job

The CPS is going to introduce a Legal Development Programme (LDP) for all prosecutors and caseworkers. We will ensure that those involved in the prosecution of Organised Crime undertake this programme of activity.

Our conviction rates

Guilty Pleas Convictions after Trial Acquittals after Trial Directed Acquittals Prosecutions Dropped Conviction Rate
2010-2011 124 69 29 1 25 81%
2011-2012 187 89 29 5 16 85%
2012-2013 151 81 31 4 7 85%
2013-2014 199 72 28 3 19 84%

Conclusion

The aim of this strategy is for the CPS to continue to provide an effective response to the threat posed to the UK by Organised Crime and those persons or groups who engage in it.

The CPS will work with both domestic law enforcement and CJS partners, together with international partners, to continue to provide this effective response.

We intend to review this strategy in May 2016 to ensure that it is achieving its objectives and meets the demands of the Organised Crime landscape at that time.

Organised Crime Division

May 2015

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