Offending patterns of those involved in serious organised crime

This study explores the key characteristics and offending behaviour of people involved in serious organised crime.

2. Introduction

This report presents findings of a research project that aimed to enhance understanding of organised crime in Scotland, by looking at the offending behaviour of people who are classified as organised criminals by law enforcement agencies. It examined the kinds of offending that those identified as being involved in serious organised crime ( SOC) are involved in, to better understand in more detail the connections between different types of offending and what this means for how organised crime is understood and addressed. It did this by examining the offending patterns in 2013-14 of those identified as being engaged in serious organised crime by law enforcement agencies, after an assessment of intelligence. Details of those identified as such are included in the Police Scotland Serious Organised Crime Group Mapping Project.

This research is exploratory in nature and aims to provide a summary of the nature and level of offending of those who have been identified as being involved in SOC. It also looks at the type of offending and the extent of this, as well as the likely impact and the extent to which it may contribute to other problems for society – e.g. anti-social behaviour ( ASB), violence, environmental crime etc.

There are a number of limitations to this method, which are expanded on in a later section. Firstly, it is reliant on the quality of the intelligence assessment of law enforcement agencies. It therefore only includes those who have come to the attention of the authorities and where there is intelligence about offending which allows assessment as a SOC risk in Scotland. Secondly, the sample is comprised of a 10% randomised sub-sample of the offenders. Although this constitutes a minority of the total number of offenders identified as part of the mapping project, it constitutes a sufficiently representative randomised sample to enable robust conclusions to be drawn regarding the nature of the larger group, with a margin of error. Thirdly, this is drawn from a period of time 2013-14 to allow charges to have been dealt with, and have proceeded through the courts, where relevant.

The intelligence and law enforcement arrangements for dealing with this group are therefore influenced by the circumstances of the time, and the tactical and strategic priorities of law enforcement for this period. Police Senior Investigating Officers determine the strategy for the investigation of SOC for each separate operation although it is important to bear in mind that the patterns of offending may in part reflect the approach to policing at the time, whereby Police Scotland operated performance targets, one of which entailed the arrest of individuals involved in SOC. However, the time period of analysis is relatively recent and confers a number of relevant insights into SOC in Scotland.

A further associated caveat to note is that the research was not intended to provide an assessment of the particular problem, or the policing and prosecution of SOC at the time. Rather, it is intended to provide insights into the more general nature of SOC as it relates to the people who were identified as being involved in it. This allows consideration of the impact of organised crime, the victims, and the demands on the criminal justice system, in terms of those who were charged during the period.

The research was conducted by the Justice Analytical Services division of the Scottish Government in conjunction with Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS) and Police Scotland. This report will contribute to a better understanding of the nature of the offending patterns of those involved in serious organised crime and the harm this creates for communities.


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