Police step up fight against 230 organized cyber crime gangs

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said the police and other agencies must use a more sophisticated approach in the face of new trends including cyber crime, human trafficking and environmental crime.

New figures show there are 232 serious organised crime groups operating in Scotland, made up of about 3,700 individuals.

Around 70% of them are located in the west of Scotland, 18% in the east and 12% in the north.

About 44% of the groups are involved in multiple types of crime, with criminals finding new channels to exploit, including the renewable energy sector, high-value vehicle theft, re-activation of firearms, and pension fund and mortgage fraud.

New figures also show there are 150 groups linked to seemingly legitimate businesses such as taxis, restaurants, shops and garage repairs where criminals launder cash, fund their criminal activities or make money by bypassing regulations.

The statistics also show that 65% of serious crime groups are involved in drug activities.

Police Scotland conducted a series of raids across Fife co-ordinated from its joint operations centre in the Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh, North Lanarkshire.

Mr Matheson, who was following the raids, said: “There’s no place for serious organised crime in Scotland and I’m proud of the innovative approach we’re taking to tackle it head-on, from the ‘Mr Bigs’ to the white-collar criminals exploiting our economy.

“Our success over the past eight years since the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce was set up is evident, however it is clear to me that the time is now right to shift direction to become even more sophisticated in tackling emerging crime trends.

“By working together, agencies are sending a really strong message that there’s no place for criminals to hide and we will not allow them to peddle misery in our communities.

“But this isn’t just about putting in doors and locking up criminals.

“There’s also a huge need to reduce the harm caused by serious organised crime, stop the cycle of deprivation and, crucially, give those who have been involved in serious organised crime the chance to turn their lives around.”

Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, from Police Scotland, said: “Serious organised crime in Scotland has diversified into new areas of activity while retaining a significant grip on traditional markets such as drug importation and distribution.

“We are now seeing criminals engaged in sophisticated economic crimes, environmental crime, social engineering fraud – all in the name of profit and all under-pinned by violence and intimidation.

“Police Scotland and our partners in the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce are absolutely committed to doing all we can to keep people safe, to diminish the threat from serious organised crime and to allow our communities to exist free from the impact of such criminality.”

Source: Herald Scotland

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