3. Experience of organised crime
Experience of organised crime in the last three years
As in 2013, one in ten respondents (101 people) said they had personally been affected by organised crime in the last three years. Of this group, around three quarters (74%) reported having been a victim, while 17% said they had been a witness and 12% said they had been affected in some other way  . The small base size for this question (and other questions asked only of those who had been affected) precludes sub-group analysis of the results.
Asked what specific type of crime was involved when they were affected, respondents gave a wide range of answers, though the most common of these were theft (18%), violence (17%), cyber crime (15%) and housebreaking (14%).  (Figure 3.1).
Figure 3.1: Types of organised crime experienced in the last three years (most common answers given)
Base: All who have been a victim or witness of organised crime (101)
Reporting organised crime
Of all those who reported having been a victim of, and/or witness to, organised crime, almost nine in ten (86%) said they had reported the incident  . Most commonly they had reported it to the Police (87%), though around one in ten had reported it to their bank (11%), their employer (10%), or a shop or retailer (7%).
Respondents who had not been affected by organised crime were asked whether they would report someone they suspected of being involved in such activity. Three quarters said they would; slightly fewer than in 2013 (81%), while 17% said they would not (compared with 11% in 2013). Eight per cent were undecided.
Younger respondents aged 16-34 were notably less likely than people aged 35-54 to say they would report someone they suspected of involvement in organised crime (73% of the 16-24 age group and 69% of those aged 25-34 compared to 83% of those aged 35-54).
There was also variation by area deprivation, with people in the most deprived areas less likely than those in the least deprived to say they would report someone they suspected (70% compared to 85%). Indeed, around a quarter (24%) of those in the most deprived areas said they would not report someone; almost three times more than in the least deprived areas (9%).
Of all those who said they would report someone they suspected of involvement in organised crime, almost all (97%) said they would report the person to the Police, with fewer than one in ten giving any other single response. The results were again consistent with those for 2013.
Perceived effectiveness of the Police in tackling organised crime
All respondents were asked how effective they thought the Police were in tackling organised crime. As Figure 3.2 shows, 60% thought the Police were effective, while 22% thought they were ineffective, similar to the results for 2013.
Figure 3.2 Perceived effectiveness of the Police in tacking organised crime
Base: All (1,088 in 2017 and 1,001 in 2013)
People who had been affected by organised crime were more negative in their evaluations than those who had not, with just over half (54%) of them believing the Police were ineffective, and just over a third (36%) believing they were effective.
In terms of other, less pronounced subgroup variations, more men than women offered negative evaluations of the Police (30% compared to 15% respectively), and more people in the most deprived areas did so than in the least deprived (32% compared to 17%).
Overall, the findings from 2017 were remarkably consistent with those for 2013, including in relation to general awareness of the types of illegal activity associated with organised crime; the perceived seriousness and impact of such activity; and the number of respondents who had personally been affected (around one in ten people in both years).
At the same time, the latest survey provided new insights into the ways people had been affected, and specifically the relative proportions of the 101 affected who had been victims (74%), witnesses (17%) or affected in some other way (12%). It also pointed to an increase over the last three years in the proportion of respondents saying that it was "everyone's" responsiblity to tackle organised crime, perhaps reflecting the impact of recent communication campaigns. Repeating the survey again in future years will enable the Scottish Government to assess whether this is part of a longer term positive shift in opinion and, more generally, how the public's awareness and perceptions of organised crime is evolving as policy and strategy in this area unfold.
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