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Tackling Serious and Organised Crime: Responses to Criminal Digitalisation & Globalisation

Thursday, September 30th 2021

Time of Event: 9:30 AM — 1:00 PM

Place of Event: Webinar

Public Policy Exchange 

Key Speakers

Paddy Tipping, Former Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner

Unmesh Desai AM, Chair of Police & Crime Committee at London City Hall

Peter Squires, Professor [Emeritus] of Criminology & Public Policy at University of Brighton

Andrew Wallis OBE, CEO of Unseen




According to Home Office estimates, Serious and Organised Crime (SOC) costs the UK more than £37 billion per year and includes drug trafficking, human trafficking, organised illegal immigration, high value crimes, organised acquisitive crime and cybercrime. Following the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) 2021 National Strategic Assessment of SOC, two worrying trends can be identified. Firstly, most decreasing offending can be directly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures; secondly, cybercrime and other online criminal activities are on the rise.

From 2020-21, the NCA’s estimate of individuals engaged in SOC surged from 50,000 to 70,000. Crimes that did actually decrease over this period, such as firearms violence and other forms of physical harm, are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels after lockdown lifts, continuing its upward trend from 2013 to 2019. The increase in drug use during the pandemic also led to the continual expansion of the drug network, exacerbating existing SOCs like county line drug trade and, worse, human trafficking. According to Unseen, criminal exploitation rose by 42% in 2020, and drug-trafficking remains to be one of the most prevalent types of exploitation. As communications technology continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, SOCs and other criminal activities must be reconsidered at an international and digital level. The scale of the recent ANOM arrests should be a testament to the complexity of modern criminal networks.

In response to these challenges, the UK government has introduced several bills this year. The Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 mandates cross-county cooperation with its ‘Serious Violence partnership’ to detect and investigate organised violent crimes, whereas the Covert human intelligence sources (CHIS) Bill 2021 grants law enforcement Undercover operatives (UCOs) more powers in infiltration campaigns. These attempts to root out the causes and operating capacity of criminal groups are continuations of the “whole system” approach outlined in the 2018 updated Serious and Organised Crime Strategy. On a local level, London mayor Sadiq Khan has invested to expand the Metropolitan Police force and pledges to focus on preventive measures such as the existing DIVERT intervention programme and the Violent Crime Task Force (VCTF). In recent years, there has also been an increase in cooperation between local authorities and community groups (Hackney Gang Intervention Project and Southwark’s SERVE programme). Other enforcement measures, such as police presence in public spaces and the use of stop and search, are similarly strengthened.

However, organisations such as FairTrials and the Criminal Justice Alliance (CJA) have warned that the 2021 Policing Bill might further disadvantage minorities in the criminal justice system, who are already grossly overrepresented. Labour traces this stagnation in tackling SOC to the government’s lacklustre community preventive measures. Moreover, the role of education, youth and prison authorities in the new Serious Violence Partnership scheme remains vague and requires clarity. On the privacy front, the adoption of new technology to tackle violent crimes, including the controversial ANOM infiltration or London Met’s introduction of Neoface, has received myriads of pushback from privacy and human rights groups. The problem is compounded by other factors such as shifting UK-EU relations and economic recovery after the pandemic, which renders the UK more vulnerable to SOCs than at any time in recent history. 

In light of these developments, this timely symposium will offer police officers, community safety partnerships, local safeguarding boards and other key stakeholders, with a timely and invaluable opportunity to exchange ideas, share best practice and develop innovative strategies to effectively respond to the growing risks associated with Serious and Organised Crime.


  • Review the state of Serious and Organised Crimes (SOCs) in the UK and responses by the government
  • Understand the effects of Covid-19 and Brexit on criminal activity in the UK
  • Analyse the effectiveness of the UK government’s current strategies and methods in tackling violent SOCs
  • Examine the role of local community groups and the private sector in tackling SOCs
  • Rethink financial and economic crimes in the context of a “Whole-System Approach” to SOCs
  • Discuss the concerns of privacy and surveillance raised by the general public
  • Identify key priorities for future national strategies
  • Evaluate new technologies and innovations that can effectively address SOCs

Who Should Attend?

  • Regional Organised Crime Units
  • Serious and Organised Crime Local Partnerships
  • Police Service
  • Police and Crime Commissioners
  • Serious and Organised Crime Officers and Advisers
  • Community Safety Partnerships
  • Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships
  • Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs
  • Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences
  • Offender Management Services
  • Fraud Prevention Teams
  • Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Teams
  • E-crime Teams
  • Local Criminal Justice Boards
  • Prison and Probation Services
  • Crown Prosecution Service
  • Criminal Justice Practitioners
  • Victim Support Services
  • Victim Care/Advocacy Organisations
  • Neighbourhood Policing Teams
  • Youth Offending Teams
  • Youth Justice Boards
  • Health and Wellbeing Board
  • Local Safeguarding Boards
  • Immigration Enforcement Teams
  • Human Trafficking Teams
  • Troubled Families Teams
  • Local Safeguarding Children Boards
  • Community Cohesion Officers
  • Community Engagement Officers
  • Third Sector Practitioners
  • Academics, Analysts and Researchers



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