Serious organised crime strategy to target emerging trends



Michael Matheson
Michael Matheson

The Scottish government is taking an “innovative approach” to tackling more than 230 serious organised crime groups (SOCGs) operating in the country, according to Justice Secretary Michael Matheson.

New figures have revealed that around 3,700 people in Scotland are involved in a total of 232 SOCGs, 70 per cent of which are located in the west of Scotland.

Some 18 per cent of SOCGs are based in the east of Scotland and another 12 per cent in the north.

Police Scotland and other agencies across Scotland have been working together to tackle organised crime as part of the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce.

However, Mr Matheson has announced government plans to “shift direction to become even more sophisticated in tackling emerging crime trends”, including cybercrime, human trafficking and environmental crime.

Authorities have identified over 650 seemingly legitimate businesses in Scotland which are involved with SOCGs and found evidence that serious organised crime has a disproportionate impact on Scotland’s poorer communities.

The government said it is placing more focus on engaging with local authorities and the voluntary sector to provide support and rehabilitation for criminals who want to turn their lives around and communities who need support.

It is simultaneously working to tackle the profitability of organised crime.

John Logue, director of serious casework at the Crown Office, said: “We are maximising our use of the proceeds of crime legislation to ensure crime groups don’t profit from Serious Organised Crime.

“This ambitious strategy will see us working hand in hand with regulators and local authorities who have an added range of powers to disrupt crime groups.

“By sharing intelligence with them and through the use of their regulatory powers, crime groups will be deprived of the specialist legal, financial and cyber advice they rely on rendering their enterprises unable to flourish.”