The newly released Serious and Organised Crime Strategy starts with a punchy fact: serious and organised crime affects more UK citizens, more often, than any other national security threat. While TV shows such as the BBC’s McMafia have done much to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of 21st Century organised crime, it is not widely appreciated how this global threat poses a serious challenge to the UK’s national security and to its finances – the Home Office estimates that it costs the UK at least £37bn annually.

Serious and organised crime can take many forms. From child sexual exploitation to illegal drugs and firearms, and from bribery and corruption to cyber-crime and fraud, serious and organised crime groups have taken full advantage of the modern interconnected world. In turn, the Government’s response has to respond in kind, with law enforcement, intelligence and the justice system working closely together, and in coordination with wider society and the private sector.

The 2018 strategy updates the previous strategy from 2013, retaining core parts of the original framework (in particular, the original ‘4Ps’ framework of Prepare, Protect, Prevent and Pursue). It builds on this in four key ways:

1. A focus on developing new data, intelligence and assessment capabilities to penetrate and better understand serious and organised crime;
2. Building up resilience within communities to reduce opportunities for exploitation by serious and organised crime;
3. Using new preventative methods and education to divert more young people from serious and organised crime;
4. And, establishing a single whole-system approach, integrating more closely with the private sector to pool resources, develop new capabilities and design out vulnerabilities.

Additional investment in the multi-agency National Economic Crime Centre was also announced, as well as a new national tasking framework for law enforcement.

The strategy places a welcome emphasis on leveraging the capabilities of the private sector to support the Government’s national security objectives, similar to how the Government’s new counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, did in June 2018. To support that work, ADS acts as the secretariat to an alliance of UK security and resilience organisations (RISC) and works closely with the Joint Security and Resilience Centre (JSaRC) with the Home Office.

There are many ways in which the UK security and resilience sector that ADS is proud to represent can help to design out vulnerabilities in products, improve the shared understanding of threats and enhance the resilience of the wider private sector. Our sector, amongst others such as the finance and telecommunications sectors, stands ready to support the delivery of this new strategy and tackle the pernicious threat of serious and organised crime.