Serious Organised Crime: 2017-2018 research outputs

Report collating the findings from the Scottish Government's multi-project phased research programme on Serious Organised Crime (SOC) in Scotland, which was delivered during 2017 to 2018.

Subsequent Steps

The 2017-18 research outputs were intended to inform work to deliver the Scottish

Government's strategic vision of a 'safer, fairer and more prosperous country free from the harm caused by serious organised crime'.

The studies provide a detailed, evidence-based understanding of SOC in Scotland. They also point to areas where further research may be beneficial. In particular, the outputs suggest that future research should seek to explore:

  • The reasons why people become involved in SOC
  • The working of SOC groups (how SOC groups operate in Scotland and how they are structured)
  • Patterns of SOC offending
  • The impacts and harms of particular criminal activities associated with SOC (e.g. cybercrime and fraud)

In addition, the outputs also highlight areas for policy action. Notably, the report on Community Experiences of Serious Organised Crime in Scotland put forward a range of policy recommendations for reducing the impact and harms associated with SOC. These include:

Developing Resilient Communities: the study recommended the addition of a fifth D to the Scottish Government SOC strategy - Develop - which is premised on community development as a means of responding to the harms associated with SOC.

Changing the Narrative: the research argues that the narrative supporting the persistence of organised crime should be challenged, at the national, community and individual level.

Addressing Vulnerability: the study recommended that local service providers develop strategies focused on the prevention of exploitation of vulnerable residents.

Broadening Community Partnership: it was suggested that a coordinated police, community and statutory partnership approach be taken to address organised crime, which would enable the development of cohesive forms of intervention and responses.

These recommendations are helping to inform approaches aimed at reducing the prevalence of SOC and the extent and severity of its impacts in Scotland. In particular, the Community Experiences report was followed up by a conference at Murrayfield stadium on the 21st of June 2018 which explored the themes and recommendations emerging from the research.

It was agreed that follow-up work again prioritise Community Experiences of organised crime and engage with community members directly to identify issues and harms with a view to exploring possible actions to reduce those harms.

Since then, a small number of pilot communities in different parts of Scotland have been identified and community groups are being established in each community in order to identify issues relating to SOC in that particular community and explore possible actions to address those issues.

Work is also continuing to share the recommendations and findings of the Community Experiences research with policy-makers and practitioners in related sectors (e.g. community safety, housing) to look at how they can contribute to reducing the harm caused by SOC.



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