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NCA Identifies Key Crime Threats Facing the UK

The National Crime Agency (NCA) recently published its National Strategic Assessment (NSA) for 2018, which contains an analysis of serious and organised crime threats facing the country. 

Rise in Organised Crime

The assessment claims that the scale and complexity of organised crime continues to grow despite notable operational successes, and that criminals are abusing technology and the impact of globalisation to adapt their methods of committing crime.

The NCA has grouped the criminal threats facing Britain into three distinct areas:

  • Vulnerability - including child sexual exploitation and abuse, modern slavery and human trafficking and organised immigration crime;
  • Prosperity - including cybercrime, money laundering and other economic crime, and;
  • Commodity - including the illicit trade in firearms and drugs.

Key Observations

Key observations from the NSA include:

  • The scale of modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK is continually and gradually increasing, while a growing proportion of potential victims are claiming they have been exploited before arriving in the UK. This is likely to reflect the developing risks in transit countries, principally in North Africa.
  • There has been an upward trend in criminal firearms discharges, with the majority of weapons not having been previously used. This indicates a fluid illicit supply from UK and overseas sources
  • Money laundering potentially running to hundreds of billions of pounds impacts the UK annually, with a significant threat being posed by the criminal exploitation of accounting and legal professionals involved with trust and company provision.
  • The UK is a prime destination for corrupt foreign Politically Exposed Persons to launder the proceeds of corruption, particularly those from Russia, Nigeria and Pakistan.
  • UK cybercrime continues to rise in scale and complexity but under-reporting of data breaches continues to erode the ability to make robust assessments of the scale and cost of network intrusions.

“The increasing sophistication of crime groups, coupled with the changing nature of their geographical reach, demonstrates more than ever the requirement for an increasingly co-ordinated response,” commented NCA Director General Lynne Owens.

“Working alongside our law enforcement, intelligence and other partners, we are changing the way we operate to ensure the biggest possible impact,” she added. “We will use this intelligence assessment to build on our operational successes and evidence why further investment in capabilities and capacity is necessary.”

Greater Awareness of Human Trafficking

In Scotland at least there appears to be greater public awareness of one of the crimes highlighted in the NSA – human trafficking.

A recent survey by the Scottish Government found that 87% of respondents would be prepared to report any suspicions of human trafficking to Police Scotland.

This is an increase from 80% in 2017 and follows a significant Scottish Government campaign to raise awareness of trafficking, launched last summer.

“This survey clearly shows that, in 2018, more people are recognising trafficking, where it takes place, and what to do about it,” said Justice Secretary Michael Matheson. “The findings are also in line with the increase in trafficking reports made to Police Scotland, published earlier this year that suggests the Scottish Government’s recent awareness raising campaign has reached a wide range of people."

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Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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