The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is celebrating it's second birthday and has produced a 2nd Annual Report. It received from the Home Office, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, the Northern Ireland Office and the Scottish Executive totals of nearly £407m in resource funding and about £45m in capital funding and has approximately 4,000 staff in post.(page 7)
Overall the impression is of an organisation absorbed in process rather than practice. The Home Secretary in her Forward says, "The social and economic harms caused by organised crime cost the UK more than £20bn a year " (Which a footnote on Page 11 says "Home Office estimate). This is further explained on Page 18 "The organised crimes that most affect the UK (drugs trafficking, organised immigration crime, fraud and firearms trafficking). Highlighting how the annual figure for serious crime of £20 Bn is hopelessly understated, the level of Carousel fraud (MITC) that has been detected is of the order of £20 Bn annually ...for several years.. see Tuesday, April 04, 2006 SOCA the UK's FBI ?
There is not a single reference in the whole of the report to Carousel fraud - although on Page 34 the rpeort says on the subject "Collaboration with Partners" -joint work with partners to build the success of the Control Strategy -"achieved. Positive engagement by partners
including ACPO, Cabinet Office, Home Office, Scottish Crime & Drugs Enforcement Agency
(SCDEA), Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(F&CO), HMRC, etc., etc., etc.,
On Page 44 we are told that the 4000 staff took delivery of 1,364 courses with a total of 11,232 attendees trained - one may set this against for example the success claimed on Page 6 ..."the issue of 46 warnings to more than 2,500 businesses throughout the UK about crime threats that might affect them, leading, for example in one case to one bank alone reporting an estimated saving of £500,000" or the Government Target or on Page 18 ..."SOCA had this year Government targets for cash forfeiture of (£5m)" . The Times was critical which has led to the SOCA boss Bill Hughes to write a letter published today which reveals that Of the 148 former police officers who have left since SOCA was formed, 46 of them retired,
At Page 46 of the 54 page report we get the information about how effort is allocated ... no mention of carousel fraud.
It would be churlish not to point to successes, but whilst there have been successful seizures of drugs, the street price is low and declining and usage increases. None of the 13 "Mr Bigs" is cooling is heels at Her Majesty's pleasure .89 tonnes of Class A drugs were seized (0% up on 06/07), 30 tonnes of cannabis plus 60 tonnes of precursor chemicals principally in Colombia and Afghanistan - what they call "upsream operations" .More than 2,000 arrests made in the UK and around the world flowing from SOCA work including under European Arrest Warrant arrangements.
Exotically named operations are listed, curiously anonymous and generalised about "successful" operations but vague on details. Go look but here is one nice one with a fascinating moniker ..
Operation HORNBLOWER, focussed on the criminal activities of an organised crime group involved in both the international facilitation of illegal immigrants into the UK from Afghanistan and Pakistan and the exploitation of migrants once here. Outcomes from intelligence development included the identification of routes from Afghanistan used by the gang, with Greece being identified as the EU entry point. (Wow!)
A series of joint actions overseas resulted in the interdiction of some 128 illegal migrants and the
seizure of a ship. Separately, action within the UK by SOCA, supported by the BIA, resulted in the arrest of two individuals on suspicion of conspiracy to facilitate the entry of illegal immigrants and the seizure of £8,500 cash.
Slim pickings for 4,000 staff and expenditure of nearly half a billion pounds. Funky logo though.
See Daily Mail today Head of British FBI attacks 'Spanish practises of his own 'disgraceful' officers -- luvly jubbly all that overtime sarge
"The report boasts of seizures of more than 89 tonnes of Class A last year - but states only that these seizures "flowed from" SOCA's work, with no details of where in the world they took place, which countries carried out the operations, what SOCA's involvement was or what proportion of the drugs were ever destined for Britain.
Separate Government figures reveal that seizures of cocaine and heroin being smuggled into Britain have plummeted since SOCA took over the fight against drug trafficking two years ago, from a peak of 23 tonnes of cocaine seized in 2003-4 to barely a tenth of that amount last year."