There are estimated to be more than twice as many people involved in organised crime in the UK than serve in the British Army, according to a new report.
The report, released by the National Crime Agency (NCA) — which brands itself as ‘Britain’s FBI’ — said that there were 181,000 offenders linked to organised crime across the UK. This compares to the 82,000 serving in the British army. This also means the number of known members of organised crime gangs is also larger than the population of Oxford.
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There were reported to be 4,542 organised crime groups and child abusers operating on the ‘dark web’. However, this is said to be a conservative estimate as these were only the offenders known to law enforcement agencies.
Among other figures released were reports of a “huge rise” in online child sex abuse referrals, rising from 10 million to over 18 million in a year. So-called ‘county lines’ drug routes rose from 720 to 2,000 in 12 months and there was also an 80 per cent rise in the number of modern slavery victims since 2016.
On top of this, recent reports from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown that there was a 14 per cent surge in homicides across England Wales over the previous year. Robbery was up 22 per cent, and burglary, theft and vehicle-related theft all saw rises.
Overall it was reported by the ONS that one in five adults in the UK had been a victim of crime over the previous 12 months.
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Lynne Owens, NCA Director General, said “people should understand that serious and organised crime kills more of our citizens every year than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined,” warning that the problem “is chronic and corrosive, and the message needs to be heard by everyone”.
Ms Owens said that the NCA badly needed considerable extra investment, ideally £650 million a year extra on top of their current £424 million budget in order to tackle the crime epidemic in the UK. On top of this, it is also claimed an extra £250 million per year is required to help support other police services.
While this may be seen as expensive, Ms Owens also stressed that organised crime “affects more UK citizens, more frequently than any other national security threat. And it costs the UK at least £37bn a year – equivalent to nearly £2,000 per family.” As a result, she said, the UK cannot afford not to act.
A recent report by Europol said that the organised crime industry across all of Europe was said to be worth 110 billion euros a year. Most of the crime was said to be carried out by Italian, Albanian, and Eastern European mafias, as well as motorcycle gangs.
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