Global progressive policing

Tackling Serious and Organised Crime: Keeping Pace with an Escalating Challenge
(Ended 21st Nov 2023)


21st Nov 2023 to 21st Nov 2023

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Date of Event: Tuesday, November 21st 2023

Time of Event: 9:30 AM — 1:20 PM GMT

Place of Event: Webinar


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. The National Crime Agency’s (NCA) 2021 National Strategic Assessment of SOC found cybercrime and other online criminal activities, in particular, to be on the rise. In the period 2020-21, the NCA’s estimate of individuals engaged in SOC surged from 50,000 to 70,000. 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 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 recent ANOM (the sting operation collaboration by law enforcement agencies from several countries, running between 2018 and 2021) arrests should be a testament to the complexity of modern criminal networks.

In response to these challenges, the UK government has recently passed several pieces of legislation. The Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 provides for the creation of ‘Serious Violence Reduction Orders’, which would allow the police to search without grounds any person subject to such an order, and mandates local authorities to collaborate and plan to prevent and reduce serious violence. The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act 2021 provides for the use of undercover law enforcement agents and covert sources and the committing of crimes in the undertaking of their duty. 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. In January 2023, the government announced its ‘Clear, Hold, Build’ multi-agency partnership tactic to better tackle organised crime, with police forces and regional organised crime units working more closely with local partners to build resilience in communities and prevent those at risk from being drawn into crime. It also launched a consultation on new offences to frustrate criminal enterprises. On a local level, London mayor Sadiq Khan has invested to expand the Metropolitan Police force and has pledged to focus on preventive measures such as the existing DIVERT intervention programme and the Violent Crime Task Force. 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 2022 Policing Act 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 significant pushback from privacy and human rights groups. The problem is compounded by other factors such as shifting UK-EU relations and stalled 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.

Key Speakers

  • Professor John Coxhead, Director of the International PIEL Centre at Royal Docks School of Business and Law, University of East London
  • Professor David Wall, Professor of Criminology at the University of Leeds
  • Professor Gloria Laycock OBE, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Security and Crime Science, University College London
  • Parm Sandhu, Director at the London Policing College and former Chief Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police Service (Event Chair)
  • Cathy Haenlein, Director, Organised Crime and Policing and Senior Research Fellow, Serious and Organised Crime at RUSI
  • Dr Mohammed Rahman, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Birmingham City University
  • Lauren Saunders, Head of Policy and Research at Unseen
  • Detective Inspector Hinesh Mehta, Cyber Crime Unit Manager at West Midlands Police


  • Review the state of Serious and Organised Crimes (SOCs) in the UK, their drivers, the tools available to law enforcement, and the value of introducing new offences and new powers
  • Understand the effects of new technologies, Brexit, Covid-19 and the cost-of living crisis 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 raised by the general public surrounding surveillance, privacy and civil rights in the tackling of SOCs
  • Identify key priorities for future national strategies
  • Evaluate the role that new technologies and other innovations can play in effectively addressing 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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