South Yorkshire Police boss welcomes review into serious and organised crime

A review into the response to and fight against serious and organised crime has been welcomed by South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 11:38 am
Updated Thursday, 31st October 2019, 4:06 pm

Dr Alan Billings, said the review – announced by the Government earlier this week – is ‘long overdue,’ claiming that years of cuts to police officer numbers had allowed criminal gangs to ‘expand their activity’.

Led by Sir Craig Mackey, former deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, the review will look at the full spectrum of serious and organised crime and consider the powers, capabilities, governance and funding required to tackle it.

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South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings

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People trafficking, the drug trade, child sexual exploitation and fraud are among the offences serious and organised crime groups are involved with.

According to the National Crime Agency, the lead law enforcement agency for tackling the threat, said there are more than 4,500 serious and organised crime groups in the UK and their criminality costs the economy an estimated £37 billion a year.

The gangs exploit the most vulnerable people in society for their own financial gain, from victims of modern slavery and human trafficking to young people suffering sexual exploitation and abuse.

Dr Billings said: “It has taken the Government a long time to realise that the years of austerity – when police officer numbers were savagely cut back – gave the criminal gangs opportunities to expand their activity.

“The discovery of 39 people dead in a refrigerated lorry is just the most recent and shocking example of the way the modern crime gangs will ruthlessly exploit vulnerable people.

“I welcome the fact that the review recognises that organised crime crosses boundaries at every level – local, regional and national – and we must ensure that the response is able to deal with this.

“South Yorkshire Police has a good record of dealing with organised crime gangs and is very proactive targeting and disrupting their activities.

“However, it is not enough to tackle the gangs after the event. We need more and more to get upstream of crime and prevent people being drawn into gangs in the first place. This is what our newly-established Violence Reduction Unit will help us to do.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “This review will help strengthen our response to these sickening crimes, building on the existing success of the NCA.

“The threat is growing, and offenders are becoming more sophisticated. Serious and organised criminals exploit children and ruthlessly target the most vulnerable in our society, ruining lives and blighting communities.

“We are committed to tackling crime and keeping our streets safe and I’m glad Sir Craig will bring his significant expertise and experience to this review, which will help ensure our system is fit for the modern world.”