14 May 2019
The National Crime Agency (NCA) has today revealed there are at least 181,000 offenders linked to serious and organised crime in the UK, calling for £2.7billion to tackle the issue which the Federation is backing.
Police Federation of England and Wales National Chair John Apter said: “Today’s report should make for uncomfortable reading for government about the true level of organised crime we are facing in the UK; but given the budget cuts to policing in recent years it shouldn’t come as any surprise.
“This is the reality of years of austerity where we have seen the number of police officers reduced by almost 22,000 as the number of organised criminals has increased; the NCA is therefore right to say considerable investment is needed to tackle this cancerous kind of crime at both a local and national level.
“However, we can’t simply go on robbing Peter to pay Paul, and what is needed is long-term, sustained investment across all police and law enforcement agencies - otherwise we risk tackling one crime at the expense of another. It is unacceptable that when funding is needed, policing goes to the Chancellor with a begging bowl and receives nothing more than his loose change, and we are then asked to be grateful! This is not the way to keep our public safe.
“The Federation, along with others, has warned for nearly a decade that cuts have consequences, but we were ignored and vilified with the Prime Minister denying the link between fewer officers on our streets and the surge in serious crime. The Prime Minister has shown nothing but contempt for policing; she has failed to support it and it is the public who are suffering.”
The number of offenders - more than twice the strength of the regular British Army – is a conservative estimate as it only takes into account known members of organised crime groups and offenders operating on the worst child abuse dark web sites.
NCA’s Director General Lynne Owens says the agency requires an additional £650million in annual funding to spearhead the fight which kills more people each year than war, terrorism and natural disasters combined.
Mr Apter concluded: “The protection of the public is, and always will be, the top priority for the police, but it must also be a top priority for the Government, or else it will continue to fail communities and we will continue to see crime rise.
“Now is the time to sit up, listen and act – and give the police, and other UK law enforcement agencies, the funding and support desperately needed.”
The National Strategic Assessment also shows:
•There are nearly 2.9 million accounts registered on the worst child sexual abuse sites on the dark web worldwide – more than 5% of which we believe are from offenders based in the UK
•The number of referrals to the NCA about online child sexual abuse and exploitation have increased by 700% since 2013
•Referrals of potential victims of modern slavery have increased by more than 80% since 2016
•The number of ‘County Lines’ drug supply lines has increased from 720 to around 2,000 in a little over a year
•Financial losses from fraud soared by an incredible 32% between April and September 2018. There were 3.6 million incidents of fraud reported in England and Wales in 2018