Types Of Crimes Within The United Kingdom Criminology Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Organised Crime is defined in the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime as, "… a structured group of three or more persons, existing for a period of time and acting in concert with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes or offences established in accordance with this convention, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit" [1] .

In the similar way, European Union drafted a set of characteristics containing eleven components for organised crime [2] . Out of these 11 components at least 6 must be present and 3 of which must be those numbered 1, 5, 11, for a crime or criminal group to be classified as organised;

Collaboration of more than 2 people;

Each with own appointed tasks;

For the prolonged or indefinite period of time;

Using same form of discipline and control;

Suspected of the commission of serious criminal offences;

Operating on an international level'

Using violence or other means suitable for intimidation;

Using commercial or businesslike structure;

Engage in money laundering;

Exerting influence on politics, the media, public administration, judicial authorities or the economy;

Determined by the pursuit of profit and/or power.

"Transnational" was addressed in Article 3 of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. Under article 3, an act is transnational when it is committed in more than one State or it is committed in one State but a substantial part of its preparation, planning, direction or control takes place in another State or it is committed in one State but involves an organised criminal group that engages in criminal activities in more than one State; or it is committed in one State but has substantial effects in another State [3] .

Transnational organised crime within European Union

Throughout the history, there are various ways transnational Organised Crimes are committed such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, firearm trafficking, migrants smuggling, money laundering, kidnapping etc. The overall impact to our economy is not obvious but huge. 'The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime' [4] , estimates that these transnational organised groups cost the global economy $1 trillion a year [5] .

EU member states have opened up its internal borders. Thus, EU citizens are free to move around between its member states. This has been widely accepted by EU citizens. However, along with many positive effects, there have been some negatives on this flexibility. One of those negatives is the abuse of these flexibilities by transnational organised criminals.

Transportation within the EU is cheaper and faster. There are various inter-state bus and train services are in operation. The postal and courier services have also been improved. To meet the demand from various occasions (such as Christmas, Fathers day, Mothers day, Valentine day etc) postal and courier services have been made fast. Electronic communication is much improved now. Service providers have introduced many fast internet, improved mobile networks and cheap phone call tariffs. Online banking has also made possible to transfer large amount of money internally and externally. There are various trade agreements among the member states have literally lifted the trade barriers. Migration has also been increased due to family ties and networks; thus, flexible immigration approach adopted by the EU member states. Organised criminals have taken advantage of these facilities and have used them in their favour to extend their criminal activities.

Transnational organised crime within United Kingdom

Alongside with many other EU member states, UK has suffered a lot from this Transnational Organised Crime. 'Serious Organised Crime Agency' [6] along with other EU law enforcement agencies has played the most important part in identifying and defending organised crime and terrorism in UK. The following are some of the threats UK faces from Transnational Organised Crime groups:

Drugs Smuggling

33 kg of cocaine was found concealed in leggings [7] 

UK faces a major threat from Drug smugglers. Various class A drugs such as heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and ecstasy are widely available through UK [8] . Annually UK drug users consume about 18-23 tones of heroin and 25-30 tonnes of cocaine [9] . More than 95% these heroin are derived from Afghanistan [10] . About 65-70% of UK's cocaine is produced in Colombia or from the border areas of neighbouring Venezuela and Ecuador [11] . The illegal drugs prices at the UK streets are highest at the Europe. Therefore, this market is an attractive target for drug dealers.


Accordingly to the payment group UK Payments Administration (Apacs) [12] , bank card fraud totalled £609m in the year 2008 [13] . Crime group called 'carders' are very active in UK. These groups supply valid bank card number details to different gangs. These gangs use these card details to withdraw money or transfer the money to various bank accounts. In 2009 a criminal gang selling UK credit card details stolen from an Indian call centre was exposed by a BBC undercover investigation.

Undercover reporter filmed a transaction with a card details seller Saurabh Sachar [14] 

Cyber gangs have engaged in "phishing". In 2004, Tens of thousands of UK NatWest bank customers have been targeted by online fraudsters [15] . Because of the nature of severity, NatWest had to ban its one million customers from setting up any new direct debit or standing orders.

There is a Nigerian organised crime group with or without the help of internal criminals contact people over the phone or email. These groups influence UK citizens to invest money for various suspicious purposes. These groups are comparatively less organised and perform their activities on the basis of fake promises.

Often there is a link between terrorists and UK organised criminals. Terrorists often use profits from UK organised crime to fund their activities. In 2003, a UK based North African terrorist funding group raised about £200,000 to fund al-Queda terrorist network through international credit card fraud [16] . In 2007 three British residents were sentenced for using illicit funds to pay for websites promoting martyrdom through terrorist violence [17] . These three men have stolen money from "hacked" credit cards.

Organised Crime Group

UK is familiar with a number of traditional organised crime groups such as Kray twins, The Richardson Gang, Clerkenwell crime syndicate, the Noonan's, Thomas McGraw and Curtis Warren. Over the period of time most of these notorious organised criminal groups have disappeared. Those who have remained in active have kept a very low profile. Due to the publicity through the media and inter-state co-operation among the law enforcement agencies, these gangs have disappeared or it became difficult to carry out their criminal activities.

SOCA has identified London, Manchester, Liverpool and regionally across the West Midlands region as the cities where the current gang related "Organised Crime" activities are concentrated. Most of these gangs have kept to a low profile in order to avoid conflict with law enforcement agencies. There are various street gangs are identified in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Birmingham. Some of these organised groups started developing their identification with colours, hand signs, graffiti tags and with various names [18] . Often these criminal groups' activities and links go beyond the boundaries of the UK and EU. Many other countries have their home grown gangs such as Italian ndrangheta or camora. Over the years these groups have developed their contacts with many UK gangs. As a result of their internal co-operation, these minor UK group turns part of a bigger organised crime group.

There is an argument that many illicit goods trade and remote frauds often originate outside Europe and expands within UK with the help of UK criminals.

Since 1990 Albanian gangs have spread all over EU including UK. These gangs have close connection with Russian, Italian and various other criminal organisations. The Albanian gangs have devised about £1.25 million in £1 coins from "parking meters" in the City of Westminster alone [19] . These gangs are renowned for their extreme violent in maintaining their control over its members or on other groups. On 13 October 2006, an Albanian gangster was gunned down over the right to rob the parking metres in Connaught Square at London [20] .

Human Trafficking

There are a number of Albanian, Chinese, Turkish, Moroccan and Russian-speaking immigrants have formed their ethnic gangs in UK. These gangs are involved in drugs and human trafficking. They traffic women from various countries and force them to participate in illegal prostitution [21] . Due to the high demand of sexual services, off-street establishment in UK often recruit trafficked victims. Most of these women do not speak English and due to their lack language skills, they are unable to defend themselves. Often these victims fall under exploitation and are forced to involve in criminal activities.

UK consumer demands for cheap goods and services. Thus, UK creates a market for cheap labour. Vulnerable people such as unskilled immigrant workers and illegal smuggled or trafficked immigrants are drawn to work as cheap labourer.

Organised criminals often traffic child who were living in poverty in their country. Traffickers influence the parents by promising a better life, education and employment.

People Smuggling

People Smuggling [22] 

People smuggling can also be classified as Transnational Organised Crime. Some organised criminal facilitators arrange transportation, prepare fake documents and help with getting round border controls. The first method of entry is by deception supported by false, forged or counterfeit travel documents. The second method of entry is by concealing through private or commercial vehicles.

UK is viewed as a stable, diverse and tolerant society, and there are opportunities for the illegal immigrants to absorb in different communities. Therefore, UK is an attractive destination for people smugglers.

Money Laundering

Money laundering is another aspect of transnational organised crime at UK. All organised crime groups need to launder their proceeds of crime to the legitimate UK economy. There is a risk of carrying out criminal activities through hard cash. It raises the possibility of detection by law enforcement agencies or theft by rival gangs. Therefore, UK organised criminals are involved in international money laundering.

Identity Crime

In order to prevent detection, many organised criminals use multiple identities. It helps them to facilitate fraud related criminal activities such as financial crimes, people smuggling and illegal working. Identity crime also helps the criminals to protect their assets from confiscation.


This Mac-10 sub-machine gun recovered from South London in 2006, It's able to fire 1,000 rounds a minute [23] 

In the year 2008/2009, there were 8,208 recorded firearms offences in England and Wales [24] . About 60% of these offences are committed in three police force areas: London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands [25] . Most of the firearms offences are committed against rival gangs.

Intellectual Property Crime

Counterfeiting and piracy of goods are covered by Intellectual property crime. Due to the lack of trade barriers; it becomes easier for fake goods to flow into UK. The December 2006 Gowers Review of Intellectual Property estimated that Organised Crime is responsible for about £900 millions [26] . It is most likely that these goods are counterfeited outside UK and than distributes them into the UK market through the help of internal Organised Criminals.

Counterfeit Currency

There are high quality 'Adam Smith' GBP 20 notes and various Euro notes are in distribution in the UK market. UK based organised criminals with the help of their foreign associates are producing these banknotes using lithographic and desktop counterfeiting techniques [27] . Street level criminals or illegal immigrants are used to distribute or circulate these notes in the market.

Kidnap and extortion

United Nation has acknowledged UK as a world leader in reducing harm caused by kidnaps and blackmail offences [28] . However, in the year 2008-2009 police forces have reported 2,034 kidnappings to the Home Office [29] . Many UK kidnaps are unreported due to the fear and damage to victim's reputation. It is likely that UK organised criminals along with its foreign associates are involved with kidnappings.

Some other criminal activities like vehicle crimes are not transnational in nature. However, they are committed by local criminals who are also involved with transnational crimes like drugs, human trafficking, money laundering etc. Some of these groups involved in variety of criminal activities at any time or in quick succession. Any new emerging crime which would generate profit attracts these criminals.

EU Instruments to prevent organised crime in UK

There are two possible ways Transnational Organised Crime can be prevented. The first possibility is by treating it as an external security threat and challenging it through law enforcement agencies such as Police, customs and Judicial process. The second possibility is by raising obstacle within the local social, political and economic contexts. In other words; by mobilising population against it. Currently, UK has adopted a mixed approach.

Police arrested a drug dealer following a local tipoff [30] 

On 1st March 2011, 10 arrests were made in Greater Manchester heroin and cocaine raids. These drug dealers were arrested on the basis of local tipoff. This proves that the general population are against these criminals and are not threatened by their activities.

In 2000, European Governments have signed up to "the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime". This was the first set of international standard dealing with this problem. In compliance with this convention "The prevention and control of organised crime: a European Union strategy for the beginning of the new millennium" was published in May 2000. Through this strategy, EU has a set a goal to prevent and control Transnational Organised Crime. As a result, it was necessary for UK to comply with the convention and develop internal measures to prevent crime and terrorism.

"Four European countries are active in the so-called 'Lyon group' of international crime experts set up by the G8 countries" [31] . UK is one of the four European countries along with France, Germany and Italy. Modern crime-fighting tools such as DNA databases, surveillance technology and recommends ways of improving extradition cooperation and other judicial issues have been used by the members of the Lyon group. This extent of cooperation can be increased in order to be more effective.

UK law enforcement agencies with the help of EU agencies have build resistance against these organised crime groups. Europol [32] has played an important role in the fight against Organised Crime and Terrorism. Transnational Organised Criminals do not respect any border boundaries; therefore, interstate co-operation through Europol has been very effective. One Senior Police Officer at the London Metropolitan Police said, "By making Europe a safer place, we add to the safety and security of this country. Our security starts not just at our own borders, but at the Greek islands or the Finnish frontier" [33] .

UK did not join Schengen Convention elements related to passport control. Therefore, UK maintained its own border controls. However, under the provision of Schengen Acquis of Treaty of Amsterdam, UK participate in all part of the Schengen convention arrangements. As a result of that UK maintain and distribute information on individual and pieces of property of interest through 'Schengen Information System' [34] . UK could use SIS extensively to distribute Transnational Organised Criminals' data and share it with other SIS participated member states. At the same time UK law enforcement officers get information from other SIS participant countries about their various transnational organised criminals.

Eurojust [35] works to generate judicial cooperation. In compliance with Eurojust; UK has increased its various judicial cooperation methods such as extradition. Eurojust is an important feature to deal Transnational Organised Criminals.

UK central office for international co-operation is SOCA [36] . Its main role is devoted to gathering criminal intelligence, identifying and preventing terrorism and organised crime with the assistance of various national and international organisations. SOCA has worked as Europol's first point on contact. SOCA along with Europol, Eurojust and various other institutions worked together to prevent transnational organised crime. The extent of this cooperation can be increased to be more effective in this prevention.

'Financial Action Task Force' [37] monitors each MS's techniques on combating terrorist financing and their counter measures. FATF's recommendations about anti-money laundering measures were implemented to EU law by "the third Anti-Money Laundering Directive". UK has complied with it by implementing "The Money Laundering Regulations 2007 [38] ". Now the banking institutions are required to establish its customers' identity and report any suspicious transactions to the relevant authorities. Although this procedure has minimized money laundering among the organised criminals, it has failed to abolish them altogether.

The Commission's proposed directive against human trafficking [39] has been affirmed by the European Parliament on 14 December 2010 [40] . This new legislation will bring tougher penalties and better protection for the trafficked victims. Along with many other EU countries UK will be benefitted from this convention.

The European Parliament has voted to tighten the law on obtaining and possession of firearms and this approach has been welcomed in UK.

Collecting data and analysing them will help to monitor a better application of existing regulations. Any seizure of criminal gains should be destroyed and this information should be publicised through media to raise awareness among the general population.


Prevention of Transnational Organised Crime is complex. The Council of Europe convention remained complex and inflexible towards modern crime fighting. Unlike many other countries, UK requires detailed information from requesting countries before actively cooperating with any request. In practical, law enforcement agencies are reluctant to share its precious criminal intelligence to its partners within or outside its border. Police from different countries may even have worked cross-purposes and unaware that they are investigating same criminals with its operation in both jurisdictions. In order to prevent these transnational organised crimes, it is necessary to generate close cooperation among the national and international institutions. That cooperation should be expanded from the country where the source of the organised crime was generated to the country where the crime has expanded; and it could be extended up to non-EU countries. There is no doubt that EU instruments are in place already and some of them are under review. Transnational Organised Criminals will be prevented, if these instruments are successfully implemented at UK.

Word Count 2999