The latest Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF) Annual Report, published today, has outlined how a multi-agency approach is delivering positive results in the fight against crime.
During 2018/19, OCTF operations have recovered approximately £1.4million under confiscation orders; helped rescue 59 potential victims of modern slavery; recorded 7,490 drug seizure incidents; and resulted in 72 organised crime groups being frustrated, disrupted or dismantled. One million cigarettes, 9.2Kg of Class A drugs and 92 offensive weapons were prevented from entering Northern Ireland.
Launching the report Claire Archbold, Director of Safer Communities, Department of Justice, said: “We are sending out a clear message that organised criminals will be pursued though the courts and their assets will be stripped. These criminals offer nothing to the wider community and the Organised Crime Task Force remains determined to confront their every action, working in partnership to create a safe community where we respect the law and each other. I want to congratulate all the agencies for their dedication and professionalism in making serious inroads in the fight against these organised criminal gangs. Their commitment is in stark contrast to those who would exploit the vulnerable in our society.”
The report acknowledges the potential for an EU exit to impact on the nature and scale of organised crime as a result of new tariff differentials or non-tariff barriers, with the potential for increased levels of smuggling and other criminal activity. The OCTF assessment is that a no deal scenario will lead to changes in criminal behaviours, with the emergence of potential new criminal markets for previously legitimate commodities.
Criminal activity facilitated by technology continues to expand rapidly, and cyber related fraud is a major growth area. There continues to be a rise in scam-type frauds utilising both modern technological methods as well as those that are more traditional.
As well as highlighting OCTF successes, the report provides advice and guidance to the general public about the practical steps that they can take to protect themselves from organised crime and to mitigate against the harm it causes to businesses and communities.
OCTF partner agencies include: Department of Justice, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Public Prosecution Service, An Garda Síochána, Immigration Enforcement, Border Force, National Crime Agency, Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs, UK Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Centre (NCA), NI Environment Agency, Security Industry Authority and Trading Standards.
For further information on the report visit Justice-ni/publications.
Notes to editors:
1. The OCTF was established in 2000 and works to reduce the harm caused by organised crime, through multi agency partnership and to secure a safe community in Northern Ireland, where we respect the law and each other.
2. OCTF provides an essential strategic leadership forum for tackling organised crime in Northern Ireland.
3. In total, over £1.4 million of criminal assets were recovered in 2018/19, of which just over £700,000 was returned directly to law enforcement agencies, Public Prosecution Service and Courts Service to enhance further recovery of criminal assets and proceeds of crime and to help protect the local community. The remainder was allocated to a wide range of initiatives aimed at reducing crime and the fear of crime.
4. More information about the work of the OCTF can be found at www.octf.gov.uk
5. For all media queries, please contact the DOJ Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.