30/03/2004

New agency set to take on organised crime

The Home Secretary has unveiled plans to make the UK "one of the most difficult environments in the world" for organised crime, through the creation of a serious crime agency similar to the US' Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Organised gangs are moving into new areas of criminality, such as people trafficking, and are exploiting sophisticated technology – and the setting up of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) is intended to meet the new threat, David Blunkett told the Commons yesterday.

The anti-organised crime package will also counter the threat from terrorist groups, which finance their activities through organised crime.

The measures set out in the government's white paper, 'One Step Ahead: A 21st Century Strategy to Defeat Organised Criminals', include:
  • introducing new powers to disrupt criminal activity and convict those responsible;
  • making better, more strategic use of our existing powers, such as tax, immigration and planning laws;
  • and creating the powerful new Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), which will work closely with specialist prosecutors, police forces, border agencies and the Assets Recovery Agency.
Launching the paper, Mr Blunkett said: "The strategy I am setting out today will reduce the harm organised crime causes on our streets and make the UK one of the most difficult environments in the world for organised criminals to operate."

The Home Secretary also announced even closer co-operation by the UK's border agencies - the Immigration Service, Special Branch and Customs.

"We will never succeed in tackling organised crime or terrorism unless our borders are as secure as they can be," said Mr Blunkett.

(gmcg)

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